Jul 2, 2020

Be Happy

Can't get enough of the Mondo flowers designed by Julie Ebersole. I only have 3 of them, but it's clear I need more! (I think I saw on IG that a Mondo Violet ?? is coming out in July. If so, I want it!). 

1. Sprayed water on watercolor paper and added reinkers. Sprayed again and let dry.
2. Stamped Mondo Gerbera Daisy with Versamark and embossed with Hero Arts white embossing powder (my favorite).
3. Hand cut the flower and trimmed to fit card.
4. Made an A2 Kraft card and stenciled Hero Arts Unicorn ink, using a stencil from Altenew.
5. Added black dots/splatters.
6. Trimmed a preprinted sentiment (the original says Always Be Happy) from Simon Says Stamp.
7. Adhered the sentiment and the daisy with foam tape. 


I have what seems like a minor problem with my eye and that has kept me from stamping and blogging, but hopefully it will heal soon. (We don't know exactly what the problem is because I'm not inclined to go to the doc unless I have no choice. So the doctor is guessing at this point!).  

Hope you are having a good week! 

Jun 29, 2020

Sparkle & Shine

There's a lot of sparkle & shine on this card, but unless you are holding it in your hand, you might miss it. So -- 

1. Stamped balloons from Everyday Doodles. Designed by Julie Ebersole, and since she is a fun stamper, it makes sense that this is such a fun set.

2. Paid attention to some design rules here -- color sets are in triangle pattern and there is an odd number of balloons. 

3. Covered the balloons with Tonic Nuvo Crystal Glaze, which DOES NOT CLOG.  100% recommend this product. Let it dry.

4. Added a sentiment from Label Love, from Altenew. 

5. Adhered a bunch of teeny tiny stars (not sure who makes them but I bought them on Amazon a long time ago).  I dotted the card with glue and then threw a bunch of stars on the card and waited to see what stuck! 

MOOD WHEN DONE: Can't Remember!  Made this a few months ago! 

I think I would like this card better if I hadn't trimmed the balloon panel and popped it up on gray cardstock. But it's still a fun card.

Well, Dallas is a dumpster fire now with respect to Covid-19, but never fear -- my fingers can still do online shopping! Hope you are all well.

Jun 26, 2020

Repeating Hearts

The little heart die is from the Essentials by Ellen Folk Hearts die collection that I used in yesterday's card.
  1. Took a few ink cubes in a variety of warm colors and ran them across Neenah Solar white cardstock, overlapping the colors. I wanted some of the white to peek through. 
  2. Let it dry (this takes a while). 
  3. Made the sentiment and adhered it first.
  4. Die cut, popped up the hearts with foam tape, added some colored gems, and trimmed and popped up on pale gray cardstock. 
Thought trimming the panel on the top and bottom would be a good idea, but now I think it makes the card look too wide. But I still like it and it will go in the mail.

MOOD WHEN DONE:  So happy I have this hobby!! 

Jun 25, 2020

Merry June 25th!

Since it's the 25th of the month, I decided to start posting Christmas cards on the 25th of June - November (and probably other dates as the holiday gets closer). I want to build a stash this year and not freak out on Thanksgiving.

This set is Honey Bee's Christ is Born and it's a keeper. It's versatile -- embossing, Copics, watercoloring -- lots of choices. I also have the accompanying die that I will use at a later date.

I stamped and embossed the entire image a piece of dark red cardstock with Hero Arts gold embossing powder (I've found that Hero Arts' embossing powders work best for me). Then I colored in the robes that Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus are wearing with a dark red Copic - R89. It added a little contrast.

I made quite a few cards with the entire scene (I'll post those another time), but at the last minute I decided to use the 2nd largest die from Folk Hearts. If you are looking to get some basic dies, I highly recommend this set of hearts. I love the longer heart shape and have used these many times.

Added the sentiment and few gold gems, and popped up the heart on a white base.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Happy. Glad to get Christmas cards started and I love how this turned out.

Thinking about starting your holiday cards?  Already finished?

Jun 24, 2020

More Friendship Blooms

Trimmed a panel of cardstock and stroked ink cubes to form the design you see. I tried out different combinations of ink pads and cardstocks, and decided that one inch ink cubes on white cardstock worked best for me. These are a combination of Hero Arts and Altenew inks. I found very juicy or dark colors didn't work well.

When the panel is dry (wait!), stamp an outline image. In this case I used the beautiful Friendship Blooms set, by Hero Arts and Gina K. Looked through my stash and found this "hi" from an older Stamp Market set and decided it was the right size. Embossed in white on black and die cut.

Added some clear gems and adhered the panel with foam tape.


I like how this came out.

I've been making Christmas cards and hope to post a few soon. Also I'm practicing using my Hot Foil system and hope to share some cards and thoughts next week.  In the meantime, stay safe!

Jun 19, 2020

Mondo Yellow Daisy

Outline flowers, like this awesome Mondo Gerbera Daisy by Julie Ebersole,  pairs nicely with this gorgeous yellow cardstock (Daffodil Delight by Stampin Up).  Perfect if you don't like to color or just want a change.

BTW, thanks so much for the thoughts on placing sentiments. I think this sentiment (such a nice saying) works great right where it is.


My long running insomnia is having a field day during this pandemic. On the other hand, it's leftovers tonight so I should just rejoice!

Speaking of rejoicing, a company is testing out a new drug for my heart condition. I tried to be part of the clinical trial but I didn't meet the criteria. The company released the first data on the efficacy and safety of the drug and so far the results are very promising. The amount of people tested was quite small (because the criteria bumped out a lot of us) so that is always a reason to be cautious, but I am very encouraged that some day there might be a drug that helps people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

The test now goes into Phase 3 and then, if the results continue to be good, the drug would go to the FDA for approval. Even if I'm too old to benefit (I have no idea) I want to see others benefit, so I remain very hopeful.

Jun 18, 2020

Hello, Hello, Hello

Love that yellow, but decided to mix it up a bit.

And then I went back to one color. I think I prefer the one color cards.

No stamping and lots of patterned paper. So not me, but a welcome diversion. This paper is from Stampin Up Brights Designer Series Paper -- love that fun woodgrain.

The Hello Outline die is from Poppystamps. Little heart stickers from somewhere a long time ago!

I need to get back to flowers!

MOOD WHEN DONE: Great. I'll pop these in the mail soon and hopefully a few people will enjoy them.

Since it's June and I'm still very interested in legal developments, I'm reading all the big Supreme Court cases. Interesting stuff. If you ever want to read up on these cases, the best (nonpartisan) place is Scotusblog

Making cannoli this weekend! Hope my version is half way as good as the pastry I grew up eating. YUM.

And, since I'm rambling all over the place -- might as well make this a soap box. As long as some folks in Dallas refuse to wear masks, we remain hunkered down in our home, with minor exceptions. It baffles and maddens me, but it is what it is. So,

Jun 16, 2020

Sentiment Placement

I make a lot of cards that end up in the trash because I don't know where to put a sentiment. This card almost ended up in the trash, which would have been a shame because I LOVE this hydrangea. It's from the absolutely must-have-for-me Mondo Hydrangea set designed by Julie Ebersole.  (It's out of stock, but hopefully will be back soon.)

The first card (with the hello) is my final version, but the next card was my first attempt.

What do you think? The "Just Because" is ok there but it just looks like an afterthought to me. I moved it all over, but nothing looked right, but I'm not sure why.

So, I gently pulled off the Just Because and set it aside. As you can see in the top and final card, I decided to tuck a small Hello in the corner. I like it better, but since I struggle with this issue, I thought I'd ask -- where would you put a sentiment on this card?

Speaking of the card -- I added a blue reinker to a small water bottle and misted it over water color paper. It was pretty pale so I dropped some reinker and misted again with plain water. Took the panel outside and put it in the hot Texas sun and 2 minutes later it was dry!

Then I put the stamp over the parts of the panel that I thought would show variation in shade, embossed in white, die cut, and popped up with foam. Decided that it didn't need anything else.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Fine! Keeping as busy as I can. Hope you are having a good week.

Jun 12, 2020

Brightly Colored Lemon Lush

Used a beautiful background stamp, Lemon Lush, by Pinkfresh Studio to make this card. It took awhile but time I have!

1.  Stamped in Memento Tuxedo ink on Neenah solar white cardstock, and kept the paper and the stamp in the MISTI.
2.  Colored with Copics.
3.  Stamped with Versamark and embossed in gold.
4.  Trimmed and put on A2 white card.
5.  Added white Hello (it provided a badly needed 3rd white element). Eyes need a break from all that color.

This is crazy bright (Mike says I went overboard), but I just wanted a lot of COLOR and I like it. These background stamps are less versatile than a set with images, but they are a lot easier for me.

As you can see, I'm not the greatest at using Copics. I need to practice my blending, but it is fun. And someone is going to open an envelope to a riot of color and I do not think my friends will care that my blending is subpar. If the pandemic has done one good thing for my cardmaking it's that I'm sending so many more cards!


Thanks for your comments. They make me smile! No news here, which is a good thing! Our week was calm. Turns out Coca Cola has temporarily stopped making a bunch of their smaller drinks, like Fresca. But I managed to find some and will move on when I run out, as the warehouses are empty (yes, I checked!). It's funny how we focus on the dumbest things!

Hope your weekend is a good one.

Jun 10, 2020

Simple, Go-to Layout

Stamp an image (or part of an image) on the top and bottom of a card + a sentiment in the middle = my favorite, simple, go-to layout. Works every time.

Used the Hero Arts/Gina K Designs Friendship Blooms set that I used in this post. Using the MISTI, stamped with pale yellow ink, and then partially inked the image with darker shades of yellow for a quick gradient look. Added a sentiment from Right at Home Stamps and a few clear jewels.

Seriously a one layer, 10 minute card.

MOOD WHEN DONE:  I really like how this turned out.

But, I'm moody. Most of the time I'm filled with gratitude and calm. Every few days I flip out for about a half hour. It feels "impossible" to basically stay inside until there is a vaccine; the country is spinning out of control, etc.; Coca Cola stopped making Fresca during the pandemic (!!!). Then I get a grip, grow up again, and go back to being fine. How are you?

Jun 8, 2020

Friendship Blooms

This is the Gina K Designs/Hero Arts collaboration stamp set -- Friendship Blooms. I love the fact that it is one big image -- no figuring out where to put the leaves, etc and no masking.

Stamped with assorted blue and purple inks on watercolor paper and moved around the inks with a wet paintbrush. Didn't even try to be an artist. Let it dry in the MISTI, and stamped over with Versafine Onyx.  Splattered some of the ink over the card.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Happy! Simple to make but I love how bright and colorful this is.

Stamping continues to be a wonderful way to cope with stress and escape. I'm lucky to have it. Staying at home gives me lots of time to read and think -- I am continuing my read of White Fragility (see my previous post) and I'm thinking, about myself and my country. It's never too late to grow and improve.

Jun 1, 2020

Uninformed and Ignorant

The tag line of this blog is "cards and talk." Today is talk.

It's hard to say anything meaningful about the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota from the living room of my almost entirely white neighborhood. The protests and riots in Dallas are a safe 5 miles from our house. I have little at risk, except perhaps my heart and soul.

I never really thought seriously about the phrase "white privilege." I think of myself as a caring, kind person (don't we all?), so I flew right past that one. But, after the murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, at the recommendation of a friend, I began to read White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. DiAngelo is white and she's addressed her book to white people.  I can't comment on the book yet because I'm still reading, but here's a quote from the beginning of the book that I've been thinking about a lot this weekend.

I am a white American raised in the United States. I have a white frame of reference and a white worldview, and I move through the world with a white experience. My experience is not a universal human experience. It is a particularly white experience in a society in which race matters profoundly; a society that is deeply separate and unequal by race. However, like most white people raised in the US, I was not taught to see myself in racial terms and certainly not to draw attention to my race or to behave as if it mattered in any way. Of course, I was made aware that somebody’s race mattered, and if race was discussed, it would be theirs, not mine. Yet a critical component of cross-racial skill building is the ability to sit with the discomfort of being seen racially, of having to proceed as if our race matters (which it does). Being seen racially is a common trigger of white fragility, and thus, to build our stamina, white people must face the first challenge: naming our race. OUR OPINIONS ARE UNINFORMED I have never met a white person without an opinion on racism. It’s not really possible to grow up in the United States or spend any significant time here—or any other culture with a history of Western colonization—without developing opinions on racism. And white people’s opinions on racism tend to be strong. Yet race relations are profoundly complex. We must be willing to consider that unless we have devoted intentional and ongoing study, our opinions are necessarily uninformed, even ignorant. 
DiAngelo, Robin J.. White Fragility (pp. 7-8). Beacon Press. Kindle Edition.

I'm not sure what I will think about the rest of this book, but this passage resonates.

My dear friend Susan Raihala linked this article on white privilege on her blog. It's also an excellent opportunity to listen and learn and become informed.

May 30, 2020

2 Cards Using Circle Dies + Some House Chat

I've got a couple of cards I made using no stamps -- just dies, paper, and adhesives.

Circle die (Hero Arts) and a Hello die from Right at Home. The Circles are popped up. Those hellos may bend in the mail, so I'll be sure to try and protect the card before I slip it into an envelop. The next size circle die was too big for 6 circles on an A2 card, so I went with the smaller one. Hope it works!

Cut some cardstock strips, die cut with a circle die and then cut the circles in half. (Note: using striped paper would have been a LOT easier.) The hello die is cut with gold glitter paper (not sure of the company that made the die).


I like the idea of these cards, but they didn't quite meet my hopes.  I'm not sure if it is the colors or the layouts, but I'm not giving up on these geometric cards.

I've been spending a lot of time watching videos on YouTube and finally decided that IG + YouTube + Facebook + Blogs = too much social media, so I deleted my FB account. I thought about it for about 2 weeks and was concerned that I would miss it. But so far I don't. Better to spend that time on cooking videos (HA!).

And, for no reason at all, I took a picture of part of our house, which was built in 1930! I'm standing in the doorway between the breakfast room and the dining room, looking towards the living room at the front of the house. It's a sunny day, and even though no sun comes through the front, the picture is a bit washed out. I kind of like it! We were on the hunt for a painting for over the fireplace but the virus put an end to that. Someday.

In any event, that blue plastic tablecloth is on the DR table because that's where we are putting together jigsaw puzzles. Otherwise, I like to see the beautiful wood table underneath.

Speaking of art, see those 3 paintings on the wall?

They are made with encaustic wax. We bought them at a craft fair in Northern Virginia a few years ago and fell in love with the artist. I tried to take one off the wall to look for her name but they are on tight! Those walls are plaster over rock solid ship lap (or something like that). I am so tempted to buy some encaustic art supplies, but that's another rabbit hole in which I am not falling!

And that's it from Dallas. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

May 11, 2020

Memory Box English Rose Collage

Purchased the beautiful Memory Box English Rose Collage die and made these two cards. A few things  about this die --

-- I got it from Starlit Studio. This is a great shop to buy Memory Box, Poppystamps, Penny Black and a few other manufacturers. They are always sold on a discount and shipping is lightening fast.
-- I tried to link the die but no longer see it in the shop. I'm sure it is available elsewhere.
-- The die is detailed and prepare to spend some time using it. I needed a metal shim and patience!

The first time I used the die I ran it through white cardstock and then through pink, red, yellow, and green cardstocks. Adhered the white panel to a white card and then painstakingly glued each leaf and petal into the die cut spaces. Had The Godfather** on in the background and I'd say it took from the opening wedding scene until the tollbooth massacre to finish!

Since I had the die out, decided to make another card by watercoloring underneath the die.

Die cut the panel and gently placed it over a watercolor panel to eyeball where to color. Used some Zig pens to color through the design and then lifted the design to finish the watercolor. Lots of placing the die panel down, touching with color, lifting and finishing it off. Popped it up with teeny pieces of cut foam tape. Got me to end of the Baptism scene!

MOOD WHEN DONE: Great. Life goes on in this new and extraordinary way. I hope you are all doing well.

** The Godfather and The Godfather II are my favorite movies. I have them on record and often put them on in the background when I'm stamping. If you haven't seen them, get out from under that rock and watch!

May 4, 2020

Penny Black Bouquet Ballet

Last year I was privileged to do some design work for Penny Black and they sent me a generous amount of stamps. Now that I have thoroughly cleaned my craft room (AT LAST), I "found" a few things that I had forgotten about and Bouquet Ballet was one of them.

Watercolored with some long retired Ranger Adirondack Reinkers. I bought a set of 12 over 10 years ago and most of the bottles are still full. Such a great way to watercolor as the color stays pretty intense. Used ONE drop Raspberry and Sunshine for the top card, and one drop of Sail Blue reinker for the second card.

MOOD WHEN DONE:  Excellent!

We continue to be fine. Our reactions to staying at home pretty much mirror a lot of our friends -- it's old, but we are grateful for all we have.

Apr 28, 2020

My Top 10, Ok 15, Current Favorite YouTube Channels

Happy Monday Tuesday! (Do you have to remind yourself what day it is? I do...)

I've always enjoyed watching youtube videos, but especially now. In case you looking to broaden your viewing, here my current favorites (mostly cardmaking). I know I'm leaving out a ton of fantastic cardmakers and a million fun channels, but these are the ones that I'm currently enjoying all the time. You may already be watching many of these folks, but just in case....

1. Laura Bassen -- Laura's techniques and colorful cards are fantastic, and her breezy, funny, commentary is a joy. (I basically stalk her channel.) Now that she is living in Germany, her stories are even more fun. Laura is also featured on several companies' youtube channels, so keep an eye out for those videos as well. 

2. Julie Ebersole -- I so look forward to videos from Julie! She always explains how and why she places things on her card (something I struggle with) and her (almost always white) backgrounds with a pop of bright color appeal to me muchly! Julie's voice and commentary are delightful. I could listen to her chuckle all day!

3. Koren Wiskman -- My friend Francie recommended Koren to me and I am so glad she did. Go for the cards, stay for the fun. Her cards are crisp and clean and beautifully made. Plus, her hair! 

4. Cathy Zielske designs fantastic products for Simon Says Stamp and has a million other projects going. Recently, she started a series on card design and it is the best!! Ten minutes on different design elements. Cathy does a terrific job of explaining why her cards "work." Addicted.

5. Penny Black Stamps -- Their products are fabulous, but their cards are even better! Jill Foster is so talented and is behind most of the videos. Her coloring, layouts, and her voice are all just beautiful. And the other artists on the channel are also amazing. I watch every video and learn something every time.

6. Natasha Valkovskaya  -- Natasha is fairly new to youtube, but you may know her as Craft Away With Me on Instagram. She's got a "simple" style that I love and her videos are great. I learn a lot. BTW, she is now featuring on Instagram a lot of hand drawn sketches that she watercolors and they are amazing!!!

7. Yana Smakula -- Yana is just plain wonderful -- all of her cards and videos teach me something. Plus, I have to admit I love her Ukranian accent (my mom spoke Ukranian as a child and, while she didn't have an accent, Yana's voice is reminding me of something!).

8. Mary Polanco -- I tend to scan the offerings looking for her product reviews. Sometimes Mary comes across some new to me things that are cheaper than what I might have bought. I like that!

9. Amy Schulke -- Amy runs Vanilla Arts and specializes in teaching Copic coloring. Her approach differs from many cardmakers and she is quick to criticize a lot of what we have been taught. YIKES. She posts free videos on youtube and they will definitely make you think twice about the way you color an image!

10. Gina K Designs -- Gina is a gem. I adore her. Honest, kind, and super hardworking. Her warm personality and classic cards are so soothing! She does a beautiful job explaining each step. Plus her products rock!

11. Jenny Can Cook -- A former comedian, her recipes are simple and there's always some subtle snark. Love me some snark. Haven't actually tried any of the recipes yet -- watching youtube is better than actually cooking.

12. The Toe Bro -- Didn't see that one coming, did you? Mike thinks I'm insane. You are either going to love this or be totally repulsed and never read my blog again. If you turn on the sound, you'll hear a very caring fun doc. He is so kind to these folks. But, DON'T CLICK ON THE LINK UNLESS YOU LIKE GROSS PICTURES OF TOE NAIL REMOVALS.

13. The Stay at Home Chef  -- Great set of cooking videos! Most of them are pretty simple. I've tried several and there's been some hits and a few misses. I really like this woman. She's got Addison's Disease and is often quite sick (you can read about that on her blog or IG account) but she keeps on rolling. So popular, she turned down an offer from Food Network for her own show.

14. CreationsCeecee -- Oh, these are some awesome videos on loose watercoloring and doodling. Warning: she makes it look easier than it is!! I know, I've tried.

And last, but not least ....

15. The Makeover Guy -- quick before and after photos of people getting makeovers from Christopher Hopkins. So fun and sometimes touching stories. Feel free to fast forward to the after pics if you don't want to hear the backstories.

Do YOU have any favorites? I'd love to check them out.

Apr 24, 2020

Hi There

Don't make this card -- unless you are home with hours and hours on your hands!

I never know what to do with square dies, so I'm not sure why I bought these Floral Squares from Pinkfresh Studio. I'm sure there is some very talented designer to blame. Squares and rectangles are not a great match.

Die cut 27 of these babies and glued the tiny narrow pieces on top of each other.  As careful as I was, the thin strips did not want to line up perfectly and glue seeped out in places. It's kind of a hot mess.

Nevertheless, I had fun making it and I like the ending.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Never again!!

I'm blogging this at 2:20 am. I've been awake since 12:30 am. Mike got up at 11:30 pm and is still awake. Things are going great here, how about you?  GAH

Apr 23, 2020

Making the Best

A cable station is playing the entire season of ER, ** and Mike and I are recording it. We watch one (or two) episodes a day. A few days ago, a sweet nurse sang a portion of this song at the funeral of a young man. The wrenching melody and the words resonated with this season we are all in.

Am looking forward to the days when we all look back and can say good riddance to this time. In the meantime, hoping to live now in a manner that I won't regret when I look back. Some days I think I meet this test; others not so much.

How are you doing??

** ER puts the current medical shows on TV to shame! I'd forgotten how good it is.

Apr 15, 2020

Friendship Cards

I've got a couple of fun friendship cards to share, both using supplies that have been around for quite sometime.

Used the cute smiley face from a tiny Technique Tuesday set (that might have been a free with purchase???). The patterned papers are from Papertrey Ink and the sentiment from Altenew. But, if you are inspired, it would be easy to substitute other supplies.

Liked the first card, but was disappointed in the lack of color. So, I made this one...

I blended ink on the circles, but if I had to do it over again, I think I'd just use colored cardstock. That was a lot of work for not a whole lot of difference.

I like them both, but am partial to the second one. Either way, they will eventually get in the mail.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Great! And a shout out to Ginger Na for sending me some beautiful hand made papers from South Korea and a card and bookmark! How sweet. Now I've got to think about using those papers (although I feel like hoarding them!).

Hope you all are doing well. If your experience is similar to mine, it's up and down!

Apr 13, 2020

The Year of Nothing

In the fall of 4th grade, the young nun teaching our class got sick and disappeared. We didn't know what was wrong with her, or when or if, she would return. One day the principal came in and introduced a substitute teacher and that was that. Our regular teacher never came back, and we spent the rest of the school year with a series of substitutes. I made a list. Our class of 40 kids had 17 separate substitute teachers.

Our parents said nothing. Or, if any of them raised a concern, we never heard about it. This was the early 1960s and parents stayed out of our education. They didn't help with our homework, or sign it. They didn't know we had a book report due on Friday or a test on Monday. And they certainly didn't challenge the wisdom of the Church. We went to school, played outside, ate dinner, did our homework, and no one bothered us. "Parental involvement" consisted of signing our report cards and helping out with an occasional bake sale. 

Our school, St. John the Baptist in New Haven, CT, had 2 sections for each of its 8 grades. Each section had 40 kids and each section stayed together for all 8 years. Since folks rarely moved, and no one got divorced, I graduated 8th grade with almost the same 39 other kids with whom I started first grade. 

Normally well behaved and studious, without a real teacher, I became a common criminal. I stole an old pair of my mother's eyeglasses and wore them to school, claiming they were mine. The obviously too big pale brown pearl frames swamped my little 4th grade head and prevented me from seeing, but I insisted they were mine, until the principal pulled them off my face at recess and told me to give them back to my mother. 

I got caught cheating on a "times table" test. I had placed a copy of the tables under my butt, and since I lacked x-ray vision, couldn't see through my ass to copy them without squirming, so of course I got caught. Despite the clear and convincing evidence of my guilt, I sat there and denied it. If a nun had been there, I'd have been called bold, made to chew on soap, and got sent home with a note to my parents. But nothing happened. I got an A in math. 

I took a crayon and scribbled like a 2 year old all over the inside of my desk. I faked being sick, running the thermometer under hot water so I would look like I had a fever, and stayed home. I missed the maximum number of days you could miss and still be promoted. I "fainted" while kneeling at the altar, waiting for Holy Communion. The following week I lied and claimed that Billy had pushed me during recess. Billy looked stunned, then shrugged, not even bothering to deny it. I got an A in conduct. Billy won the "best citizen" award that month. 

The Year of Nothing was the Year of the Lord of the Flies. Howie became the de facto Lord of the Class. Heavier than everyone else, he pushed around the smaller boys, stole our lunches, and mocked all the teachers behind their backs. 

We didn't learn long division, or our times tables, the way the other section had. We didn't sell as much World's Finest Chocolate. We misbehaved in and out of class. Our section didn't get to sing its own song during the Christmas Pageant. Rather, they scattered us among the other classes so as to dilute our presence. None of us made it into the Queen's Court for the May Day celebration. 

But I was one of the successful kids. When I got to 5th grade, and under the careful eye of the same nun all year long, I became a reformed criminal. I reverted to actually earning good grades and behaving myself. And I stayed that way. But not everyone did. By the time we graduated, our section had a well deserved reputation as being the "worst" class ever, with the "worst" penmanship, "worst" behavior (bold and wild!), "worst" standardized tests, and, worst of all, the "worst" attitude. 

I often wonder what happened to some of my classmates. Several of the girls attended the same all girls high school as I, and I know they ended up fine. But some did not. Howie did not graduate with us. He got expelled in May of 8th grade, a month shy of graduation, for cheating (on a math test). Eddie never really learned to read, but he graduated. He was killed in Viet Nam. Carol had a nervous breakdown in 9th grade and we lost track of her. Mary Beth went to "live with her Aunt" her Junior Year of high school (and I suspect she gave the baby up for adoption).

Did 4th grade cause these problems? No clue but I can't help but wonder. A savvy researcher would have tracked the two sections of kids to see what effect the Year of Nothing had on us. An even savvier group of adults wouldn't have let it happen. But, no one was paying attention, so we'll never know. It was 1961 and there was The Bomb and Communism and putting food on the table to worry about. 

I thought of that year recently. It was scary being out of control. Getting behind in math wasn't the worst of it -- cheating and lying were. Watching all the schools close down, I thought back to my crazy 4th grade and wondered how shutting all the schools is affecting our kids now. It didn't take much for me to go from being a "perfect" student to a little criminal! Let's hope we all have a little more savvy now and are paying just a bit more attention to these tender souls. 

Apr 10, 2020

Manor Born

My friend, Pam, lives nearby and does AMAZING papercrafting. Plus, she actually sends cards all the time! 

Here's a mini Bardee Manor that she made me last week. I got a text telling me that she was dropping off something and would text me when she left. Like a drug drop!! HA.

Isn't this amazing? My husband and son were impressed -- I think they may have suggested I make something like this. Can you imagine the patience and time such details require!?? Not me. 

(Sorry the pics aren't better but photography is so not my thing.)

And here's the real deal she modeled it after!

Thanks Pam!

MOOD WHEN DONE: Fantastic!

Apr 5, 2020

Reverse Confetti Easy Hello

Reverse Confetti is owned by Jen Del Muro and is located right outside Dallas. We've never met (but will fix that as soon as we go back to "normal times"**), but I am a big fan of her products, particularly the line of bold, graphic cover plates. It's open for business, as Jen is running it by herself for now.

This card uses the Rounded Stripe Panel die, which is super easy to use -- I cut the die in 3 colors and then pieced together, popping up the blue pieces. Added a sentiment that was sitting out on my desk! And yes, I can see that the sentiment isn't centered perfectly, but that's another lesson to slow down, even in these slowest of days.

I don't know about you, but before I shell out $20 on a die, I want one that I can use over, and I think this one fits the bill. You'll be seeing more of it.


** I keep thinking about the future and found myself referring to it as "normal times," as in "I can't wait for normal times so that I can...."  I realized that I got that phrase from my paternal grandmother. She was born in 1900 and never accepted all the changes she witnessed in her life. One of her favorite expressions in the 1960s was to bemoan current prices (for example, bread (.25!)) and say she couldn't wait for them to return to "normal times." Bread was never going back to .5 a loaf, but she never stopped pining for that time.

The funny thing was that, by then, she and my grandfather actually were very comfortable financially. After they died, we grandchildren figured out that my grandfather, who had traveled to the US alone from southern Italy through Ellis Island when he was 13, earned his money, not just by being a barber, but by running a numbers operation through the barbershop. Despite having money, my grandmother worried all the time that they would lose it all. She had been poor and never felt the safety that those who grow up comfortable take for granted. She never stopped waiting for the .5 loaf of bread, even though by every measure she was better off when bread was .25.

So now that we have all had the rug pulled out from under us, I wonder how this will change us. Will I ever be comfortable going to the movies, eating at a restaurant, or going to an ER? Will I go back to having a half empty pantry, believing that "stocking up" is a waste of money? Will I ever take easy access to a grocery store for granted?

Maybe time will soften this experience, but I expect that for many, particularly those who are facing financial ruin, these times will leave a heavy mark and change us in ways that we cannot see now. So today, it's one day a time, helping where we can, waiting and hoping for the best, but knowing that "normal" is going to change forever.

In the meantime, I'm wondering -- how do you think this will change you or your family or society? 

Mar 30, 2020

I Can't Even . . .

Using blank stencil material (just a sheet of plain uncut stencil material -- you can find some at JoAnn's or other places), I die cut a hexagon. Ink blended Altenew's Warm Sunshine and 3 shades of orange inks. Purposefully kept the design a little wonky, in keeping with the fun sentiment, which is from Voices in My Head by Julie Ebersole .

This card is 5 1/4 x 4. I thought I would take the smaller layer and pop it up on an A2 card, but decided it looked better as a one layer.

Seems to fit our times, yes?

MOOD WHEN DONE:  Good! Hope you are all hunkered down and doing well.

Mar 26, 2020


My favorite type of card -- ink and paper.

Decided to switch from triangles to circles. Used Altenew's Halftone Circles and a bunch of inks. Switch out the sentiment and this could be a fun birthday card (**goes looking for an appropriate sentiment**).


Thanks for the encouragement to keep posting. I had written a longish post on all the emotions of the past couple of weeks and the future of the world (HA!) and then deleted it because I don't think it would have added to anyone's day.

I will say one thing about this time -- I am so grateful for all that we have and as the days go by my gratitude grows. Stay safe, stay inside, and be good!

Mar 24, 2020

Thank You

Made most of this card BC (before Covid-19) and finally finished it. Used the same triangles that I used in this post. Of course, totally inspired by Laura Bassen.

MOOD WHEN DONE:  Wasn't sure whether to even blog right now. It's hard to know how to be helpful, or at least not annoying. In the meantime, sending all of you best wishes during these extraordinary times.

Mar 8, 2020

Geometric Designs

I've been smitten with some cards made by Laura Bassen and Julie Ebersole that use basic geometric shapes. So I decided to try my hand at it.

Die cut a bunch of triangles using Waffle Flower Crafts Color Combo dies. Of course you can cut them using a paper cutter, but I wanted precise images that only a die can give. Found that placing the sentiment and the shapes in the right place is really hard. I used my MISTI to stamp the sentiment, but it was impossible to get the curve just right. Next time I'll use an acrylic block and see if that helps.

I added each triangle around the sentiment, trying to keep them about 2 letters apart, and then took a piece of tape and lifted them all up at once so that I could add foam tape underneath and then adhere. Learned that trick from Laura and it works like a charm. Added some clear gems.

I'm in the process of making more cards using these triangles, so stay tuned!

MOOD WHEN DONE: Delighted!

A friend of mine visited last week and we had a blast despite the rain. Did the JFK tour again and that is always interesting.

Have a great week!

Mar 2, 2020


My husband's birthday was last week, and he likes bright colors. I could hand him a card with just a bunch of bright colors scribbled on it and he would be happy, but I made this instead.

Used Mama Elephant's Celebration Balloons (stamps and dies), Copics, and patterned paper.
Masked the balloons and added the strings.
Die cut the "Hurray" 4 times and adhered the words on top of one another.

There was a bit too much white space so I added some clear gems. If I had colored gems I would have used those, but you use what you have (until you get what you need!).


A friend from DC is visiting this week. I am so excited!!  Hope you have a great week.

Feb 29, 2020

About Writing

First, thank you so much for the overwhelming response to It Ok Please  not only on the blog, but on FB, and the many emails. I love to know someone reads this stuff and if it resonates, that's even better.

Over the years, I repeatedly get certain comments or questions about these stories, and thought I'd address some of them.

You Should Write a Book

Thank you, but no. I don't walk around with a ton of memories and stories -- rather, something usually triggers a particular memory.

In the case of It Ok Please, I was talking to a sales guy at Apple the other day. One thing led to another and he shared that his mother was an orphan, born in South Vietnam of a South Vietnamese woman and an American soldier. She was immediately placed in an orphanage as "mixed" children were shunned. Eventually his mother made it to the United States, where the Apple sales guy was born.

Afterwards, I thought about the influx of Vietnamese into Arlington, VA and all the clients I had. I thought about the refugees I see every week at the International Rescue Committee and suddenly remembered the young woman who came to my office in Arlington with a little girl and a short letter written in Vietnamese. I can still see them sitting there. I kept remembering more details and wondered whatever happened to them. I felt something (sadness, satisfaction, respect, gratitude, etc) during that memory, and it is those feelings that prompt the writing.

I don't have the patience to store those feelings and stories for a book. It is usually a matter of only a day or two from the time an idea for a story comes to me to the time I publish it -- if the story doesn't write itself, it isn't worth telling, and I like getting out the feelings. Waiting to collect all the stories into a book that maybe might get self published one day 5 years from now would be frustrating for me. 

So, thanks for the encouragement. It is very kind, but no book.

Are The Stories True?

Yes. I am not creative enough to make up these stories. Plus, legal issues provide a lot of drama all on their own -- that's why there are so many movies, TV shows, and news programs about law. Add poverty to the mix, and as I've said before, these stories write themselves.

I do add or change details to protect privacy or to paint a clearer picture. For example, in It OK Please, I remembered that Bian's father was a wealthy professional. I couldn't remember exactly what he did, so I made him a doctor. It got across the point, and his exact profession isn't central to the story. Using the word "doctor" is more human, specific, and descriptive than "wealthy professional," and part of writing these stories is to paint a picture that the reader can imagine. And if I had remembered he was a doctor, I would have changed that detail to some other profession because I must protect the privacy of my clients.  That's why sometimes I also change ages, hair color, etc. 

You Are a Wonderful Person

This one sort of cracks me up!

I didn't have a clerkship or job lined up for after law school graduation. The job market was tight and, while I graduated in May, I still had to take the Bar Exam in July and then wait for the results (October). So my first job after law school was a cashier in a drug store.

The day after the bar exam results were announced I got a phone call from a new legal aid office in Norfolk, VA. Did I want an interview? Interestingly, I hadn't applied for any legal aid jobs but some organization to which I had submitted by resume passed it on to the legal aid office. I got the job (I found out afterwards that they wanted to hire a woman who had passed the Bar).

Unlike doctors, lawyers don't go through a formal apprenticeship. I had no training, no knowledge of relevant Virginia law, no formal supervision. I hadn't participated in the legal aid training clinic in law school because I had no intention of litigating after I graduated. Despite all this, I started seeing clients my second day of work.

It wasn't pretty.

I don't write much about those cases ... or the routine (to me, not my clients) cases, or the people who left my office as broken as they arrived. Being poor doesn't make you a nice, sympathetic person. My clients were human and could be as frustrating as all the other humans in my life! I lost many of my cases, particularly ones involving money, either because the law or the facts, or both, weren't on our side. Legal aid provides clients a chance, but doesn't guarantee a happy outcome.

So, before you think I was all that wonderful saving the world, remember you are only reading a slice of the job and through my filter. I wasn't doing this work out of a generosity of spirit or with super legal skills -- I needed a job and it was the first offer I got. I lasted 10 years and I was a lot better at it when I left than when I started. I'm happy it worked out as it was a great way to start my career, and it gave me a foundation to appreciate my life.

I got way more out of it than I gave.

Feb 25, 2020

It OK, Please

On April 30, 1975, Communist North Vietnam and the Viet Cong captured the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon. After fighting there for years, the US had signed a peace agreement with the North two years earlier and had left the country, although its embassy remained. During the two years between the peace agreement and April 30, 1975, the South continued to fight, but without the US, victory by the North was inevitable.

On April 29th and 30th of 1975, many in the US watched on TV, horrified, as thousands of South Vietnamese surrounded the US embassy begging to be evacuated. The US managed to evacuate most of the remaining Americans and sent a few helicopters and planes to rescue some of the South Vietnamese.

Those that couldn't evacuate remained, but over many years, some tried to escape, leaving on small, rickety boats. These people, known as "boat people," climbed aboard these boats having no idea what would happen to them -- all for a chance to live in freedom. Many died, but some made it out.

Bian Nguyen* made it out.

Bian, like many other Vietnamese refugees, eventually made her way to Northern Virginia. Over time, lots of Vietnamese restaurants (yum) and other shops popped up, particularly in one section of Arlington, Virginia. In 1979 I started working in a legal aid office a few miles from that block. We saw many Vietnamese refugees who struggled with the typical issues faced by low income people -- landlord/tenant, family, etc. Most situations were frustratingly sad, but every once in a while, there was some sweet with the bitter.


I glanced at the intake sheet - Bian Nguyen, 25, was here for an adoption. Adoptions were easy. Unless a parent objected (which was rare) adoptions were pretty much just paperwork, with one routine court hearing to finalize. Sometimes the Judge would sign the paperwork without a hearing. Kids got parents, became eligible for things like social security, and life went on. Adoptions were easy and good. This should be a snap.

Bian looked more like 15 than 25. A tiny young woman with short black hair and shy demeanor, she came in with her 6 year old niece, Mahin.  Bian and Mahin sat down and looked up at me.

"What can I do for you?"

Luckily, Bian spoke English well enough to talk to me without an interpreter.

"I adopt Mahin," pointing at her niece.

Bian had been a nursing student in Vietnam. Her father was a doctor and wanted his two daughters (Bian and her sister Dacey), and Dacey's daughter (Mahin), to leave Vietnam. He paid for 3 spaces on a small boat.

Bian and Mahin's small boat left Vietnam in the middle of the night, but Dacey refused to go. She wanted to stay and wait for her husband, who was missing in the war. Her plan was somehow to find her husband and have the 2 of them leave and meet up with Bian and Mahin. But, as Bian explained, Dacey's husband was still missing and Dacey never made it out of Vietnam.

Bian and Mahin's boat made its way to Indonesia, where they lived for 2 years before getting permission to migrate to the US as refugees. When I met Bian, she was working in a Vietnamese restaurant, hoping to go back to nursing school. Mahin was getting older and Bian decided it was time to adopt her. Dacey wasn't coming.

Mahin was Adorable with a Capital A -- bowl cut shiny black hair and big brown eyes. As quiet as Bian, she barely moved or made a sound, but I got a few smiles out of her and eventually she was drawing pictures on one of my yellow legal pads. She seemed ok.

In order to adopt a child, Virginia law required that the natural parents consent in person or in writing to the adoption. If the identity of the parents were unknown or their location was unknown, the law required that certain steps be taken -- a newspaper notice and that a letter be sent to the parent(s) by registered mail with return receipt certified.

We were able to do the newspaper notice, but Mahin's father was likely dead and her mother was in Vietnam. The US had no relationship with Vietnam -- mail went back and forth but there was no way to send registered mail to Vietnam. All we had was a letter in Vietnamese from Dacey. Bian said that the letter granted her permission to adopt. I copied the letter and kept the original in my files.

I was stumped. So I did what lawyers do -- I filed a "motion." In litigation, a motion is basically a request to the Judge to "Please Do the Following..."  I entitled it something like "Motion to Proceed with Adoption Without Registered Mail." I summarized the situation and asked for a hearing.

Back in the day, the Arlington courts had "motions day" one Friday a month. Anyone and everyone with a motion scheduled for that Friday showed up and you just waited until the clerk called your name. The courtroom was packed with lawyers waiting their turn.

I brought Bian and someone who could translate Vietnamese with me. And Bian brought Mahin. The clerk called our case "In the Matter of the Adoption of Mahin" and up we went. I explained the matter in simple terms to the Judge. Everyone in Arlington was very familiar with Vietnamese refugees and the "boat people." But the Judge was concerned -- proceeding without notice made him uncomfortable. The Judge wondered how he could be sure that Mahin was related to Bian and not some young girl she found on the boat or in Indonesia. He asked Bian to testify.

Bian told her story. She testified about how her father was a doctor in Vietnam and had paid for 3 spaces on the boat, but her sister Dacey wanted to wait for her husband, who was still missing. Bian told about getting in the boat with Mahin in the middle of the night. She talked about their 2 years in a refugee camp and how she taught Mahin how to read and do her numbers and how they learned English together.

Then I asked the Clerk to mark a piece of paper I had as an Exhibit. I handed it to Bian and said, "Please explain to the Judge what this piece of paper is."

Bian testified, "This is letter from my sister Dacey. She mail it to me from Vietnam."

"Is it in Vietnamese?"


"What does it say?"

"Letter say: It OK, Please. You take Mahin and keep her. You are my sister. You become Mahin's mother because I can't. Thank you."

There wasn't a sound in the courtroom. The war had torn a hole in the US that hadn't begun to heal. But in that moment, it wasn't about communism or protests or bombs or anger or fighting. It was just Bian and Mahin. And Dacey, back in Vietnam.

I looked at the Judge and said: "Your Honor, I understand your concern about Mahin but I believe Bian's testimony is convincing. I ask that you take Judicial Notice that there is no registered mail to Vietnam. There is no way to provide notice to either of Mahin's parents. But, if needed, I have brought someone who is not related to my client who can translate the letter."

The Judge told me that he believed Bian and that the translator wasn't necessary. He looked at Bian and said:

"Ms. Nguyen, you are a very brave young woman, You can step down and go sit with your lawyer. I am happy to sign these adoption papers. You are now Mahin's mother. Best of luck."

As I gathered my papers, a couple of lawyers began to clap and then the courtroom broke out in a gentle applause. Bian held Mahin's hand and mother and daughter walked out of the courtroom.

* no names are real

Feb 24, 2020

a note of thanks

A little gold makes everything special...I particularly like when non stampers ask about embossing. It's a secret weapon!

Used Wonky Backgrounds by Essentials by Ellen (designed by Julie Ebersole) to add a fun ombre background to this gorgeous gold butterfly (Concord & 9th).  Sentiment from Altenew.


The sun is out and I have the time and energy to clean the house -- so I'm sitting here blogging.  Mike's birthday is this week, but he doesn't want a cake because he "doesn't want too many sweets in the house." How do we even get along?

Feb 22, 2020

Flower Doodles

It's not quite spring in Dallas, but I'm hoping for a warm up soon so I decided to break out some spring colors and flowers.

Used the flowers and leaves from Everyday Doodles to create a fun card. Love how the solid stamps don't line up perfectly with the outlines. Added Nuvo Crystals to the centers of the flowers and some clear gems to jazz it up.  Sentiment is from Altenew.

This card celebrates nothing other than life, which is as good a reason as any to celebrate, right?


Feb 6, 2020

Cat Lady

Happy Thursday! Nothing wrong with celebrating a regular day, especially when I'm surrounded by bright sun and no need to cook dinner tonight, right?

If you scroll through my entire history of cardmaking, you are not going to find a lot of animals, particularly cats. I'm afraid that they will scratch me. They sense my fear, so OF COURSE, they make a bee line for me and rub all over me, which causes me to tense up even more.

But, I still think they are cute, so I finally decided to buy a set with a few cute cats, which I paired with a clear embossed background. Colored the edges of the die cuts with a Copic that matched the teal cardstock, something Yana Smakula does. You can see an example here. Love how it makes that white outline disappear. She's one clever cookie.

Maybe I'll get into cute animal cards?

Hero Arts Hearts and Flowers Bold Print
Honey Bee Stamps Oh My Whiskers
My Favorite Things birthday sentiments (can't find it on line)


I went a little dark after I got the good health news -- because I can't just be happy and grateful. No, I had to dwell on the pain of thinking I needed a heart transplant when it turns out I do not. If only my brain just behaved! Luckily, I sulked and whined my way through a few days and came out the happy side.

Hope you are having a good week!