Saturday, December 31, 2011


Ah, Beth. Your winter mailart postcard arrived today and it gave me much more pleasure than you can even imagine.

Every day I come home from work, set down my purse, briefcase and lunch box, open the bird's cage so he can climb out and run around on top, and then I walk the dog down to the mailbox. We live in a neighborhood where the communal mailbox has 11 little locked doors, plus a slot to drop mail. So all along the street, every 5 or 6 houses, there's a mailbox on a post. Ours happens to be about 3 houses down on our side of the street. It's the perfect distance to walk the dog at nite. Not too far that we both freeze, but far enough that she stops to water the grass and I get a look at the nite sky. Tonite's moon is a waxing crescent with a slight halo. Very pretty. I could have been a moon worshiper in another life.

Anyway, we get to the mailbox, I unlock the #5 door, grab my mail, and lock it back up. We turn around and wander back up the street as I flip thru the mail when suddenly I come to Beth's card. I stopped in my tracks and began to laugh out loud. Normally a postcard with the theme 'winter' wouldn't be especially funny, but Beth's card had the word 'joy' in little round stick-on letters. Some place between Michigan and California, the J had gone astray, so that when I looked at the card, it had this lovely pale blue and white music thing going on with the word OY in the bottom right corner. Too funny. It totally sums up my December.

Thanks, Beth, for the lovely card. And for the chuckle. I love it - both for how it was supposed to be, and for how it arrived in my mailbox.

another one bites the dust

Goodbye 2011. I'll miss how easy you were to write - just two quick little lines. 2012 will take a bit of getting used to.

I'll remember that you were the year I discovered art journaling. I'm only sorry it took me so long to learn about it. I'm still finding my artistic style, buying too many art supplies, and wasting paper on learning techniques, but I've also taken some fun classes, learned a hell of a lot, and connected with some great women.

You were the year I tried and failed at painting anything realistic looking. I just don't have the eye for it. The instructor would come up and look at my painting and say things like, "Well, let's see how we can fix this up." Then he'd take my brush and proceed to do exactly that - fix it. The two paintings I liked from that class were ones he mostly painted for me. I threw them away the last time I cleaned up my art room. There are plenty of things I'm good at and I can totally accept that I'll never be a painter.

You were the year my arthritisy hands took a turn for the worse. I wonder how long I'll have the use of them and I wonder what I'll do when it hurts too much to do much of anything.

You were the year of the lovely autumn. The trees changed lovely colors this year and seemed to stay on the trees forever. Each day walking the dog or driving to work, I'd notice them and think how pretty they were. Thank you for that. Autumn makes me think of my mom, so it was a nice autumn.

You were the year we decided to change our housing situation. We'll be in a different house by the end of March. I'll miss some things about this one, but I never really settled in and decorated and I don't really know why since we were here 5 years. I think the next one will be our home for a long time, considering our employment situation, so I'm going to really live in it. Plus, I get the entire front room for my art studio. YES! <fist pump>

Tomorrow we're having black-eyed pea dip for good luck, then salmon with rice and roasted Brussels sprouts, with lots of See's candy and home made cookies for dessert. Mmm-mm-mm. And I haven't gained a single pound this holiday season, despite having cookies with every meal of the day for a solid month.

To all 3 of you who read my blog - thank you. It's great to read your comments. I hope you have a safe New Year's Eve, and I wish you a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year. Remember, everything rolls over tonite. All possibilities are back in play. Tomorrow is a new day.

This marvelous old postcard was mailed to my maternal grandmother Theresa. It's postmarked Dec 31, 8pm, 1910. That's almost exactly right now, 101 years ago. Isn't that amazing?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

round layered ornament

I thought this was another One Lucky Day project but I can't find it on her blog. So I have no idea where I saw this, only that it was very cute and I had all the stuff on hand to make some. I also can't find photos of the five that I made, only the one I still have here. Ah, well. They all have good homes.

The one I saw online had a base circle of Warm-n-Natural batting but I used some off white upholstery fabric I had already out. I cut variously sized circles of vintage papers, tissue paper patterns, lace - whatever grabs you, pretty much. Don't make perfect circles, just cut by eye. Layer them however you like, largest to smallest, then sew enough to keep the layers together. I sewed in a random circular motion using black thread. You need two for each orny. My largest circle is about 3.5-4 inches across.

Then I cut about 10' of pearl cotton for the hanger and made knots all along it, just randomly. I glued the knotted ends of the hanger in between two sewn circles, using E6000. They sat under a heavy book all night, then I fluffed up the tissue paper a bit for some texture, glued either a button (or three) or an old glittery star to each side, and voila - a vintage, unbreakable ornament.

note cards

During December, the blog One Lucky Day did a series of great projects. One of them were these note cards. Scroll down to see the cards. I thought they were really cute, dirt simple to make and suitable for almost anyone so I made some. I only had five decent pieces of stationary type paper in the house so that's all I made this time but plan to make more. You could tailor these to the time of year, the person's interests, etc. I used vintage papers, bits of doilies and laces, and some vintage stamens, all from my stash. So simple and so cute. Go make some. And thanks, One Lucky Day. The people I gave them to loved them.

wow, not sure why this is so blurry. Anyway, on the inside, I glued 3 squares of paper
on point to cover the back side of the stitching.

winter postcard

Beth and I decided to swap a 'winter' themed postcard. I was sort of stalled out on ideas until I bought an old photo while I was in Visalia visiting my friend Moneka. I started by cutting up a red file folder from work that had seen better days. I sewed the photo to one layer, then sewed two other pieces to the back to cover up the photo stitching and give it some stiffness.

Also got stalled out on the photo caption so I ended up going with the first thing that came to mind when I looked at the photo. The black and white image of the building just sitting there in the snow - no people or animals around, no smoke from the chimney. It almost looks deserted. It just looked really cold to me so I went with Baby it's cold outside. How original, huh? I think my brain just takes a vacation in December. The whole month's been sort of a fog memory. 'Dec 1949' was written on the back of the photo so I re-wrote it on the front.

Added some scroll work in the bottom corner, then a bunch of white dots (for snow? not sure what I was thinking) and a bunch of black dots since I was in dot mode, and called it done. I like the combo of straight and zigzag stitching around the photo. Saw that somewhere and thought it looked neat. Funny how the simplest ideas don't occur you until you see it someplace and then it's like a smack in the forehead. What a cool thing to do.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

stencil fun

I've been watching Julie FFB play with her stencils since they first came out and I finally couldn't stand it any more so I ordered some. I got mine from Collage Stuff, but Julie sells them on her site also. I bought Harlequin, Cubist, Wonky Circles, and Chevron in the 6x6" size. Tonite I hauled out my box of sprays and distress inks and a few ink pads and went to town.

These are really fun, easy to use, make cool pages, can be used in a zillion ways, will last forever with just a bit of care, and don't cost a heck of a lot. I call that a product worth having.

harlequin with blue jeans, then vintage photo distress stains

wonky circles with an ink pad, then chevron with wild honey, then harlequin with another ink pad
cubist with spun sugar distress stain

chevron with fired brick and then wild honey distress stain

cubist with purple spray ink

wonky circles with walnut spray ink, then harlequin with blue jeans distress stain

chevron with green spray ink

all 4 stencils

the products I used

my messy art desk

long shot of desk cause I love seeing other people's work spaces, so I figure you might too

Friday, December 9, 2011

gluebook pages

I made a few more of these, two of which will go off to Sue in Australia, altho I haven't yet decided which two. We got one of each other's in Mary Green's swap and have begun an email friendship. So nice to meet compatible people now and then, but too bad she's sooo far away. Ah, well...

These gluebook pages are quite enjoyable to make. For the background papers, I use pages from old books, some sheet music, maps, ledger pages, pretty much any vintage paper. Then I choose a focal image and sift thru my boxes of paper ephemera looking for things that seem to go with it. After auditioning many things, it always sort of shakes itself out and then I begin playing with the layout of the items. This on top of that? That on top of this? Left? Right? Eventually one way looks better than the others and that's the one I go with. It all makes for a pleasant hour at my vintage paper table. (as opposed to my current day materials desk or my computer desk) Try them, they're fun.

Every single item on all of these is the actual old paper, image, label, whatever, except for the girl in the lacy dress on the Rieger's page. She's a copy. It used to kill me to use the original of something but once I got past the first couple times, I'm really liking it. The finished product seems richer to me.

These labels are all from vintage threads and buttons I've had for ages.
Just couldn't stand to use them, but once I did, I love this page.
Sorry, Sue - I'm keeping this one lol.

Monday, December 5, 2011

cookie days

Geez, long time - no blog. The longer I'm at this blogging thing, the more respect I have for people who blog every day. That's a lot of work.

Anyway, I like to bake. Cookies, cakes, pies, scones, coffee cakes, birthday cakes. I bake all year long, but at Christmas, I really bake. Actually, not more quantity but definitely different stuff. One year I was paging thru my several cookie cookbooks and came across biscotti. $2 each at Starbucks, expensive by the box in specialty stores. I loved biscotti but thought it must be terribly difficult to make since they charged so much for it. But then I thought ah, what the hell and made some.

Revalation! It's not hard at all. Not the least bit tricky like scones or pie dough can be. No more time consuming or troublesome than rolling out dough for cutouts, or dropping by spoonfuls. Mix in the mixer, form two logs, flatten, bake, slice, bake again. Done. And it impresses the heck out of people who receive them as gifts. A cute coffee mug with several biscotti tucked inside is perfect for a lot people on your list. Those folks you want to remember with something small but good. Bake. Biscotti.

I usually make at least 3 types, sometimes as many as 5 depending on my mood and available baking time. One year I got fancy and dipped the ends in melted chocolate. That went over very well. Yesterday afternoon I made my usual choc chip with craisins cookies, our everyday gotta have 'em on hand cookies, but I also made two batches of biscotti - chocolate with craisins that I make each year and a cinnamon one I hadn't tried before. Both are very good. The following pics might motivate you to try your hand at them.
My trusty mixer and a great little biscotti book.

My usual baking mess. Spilled the cocoa this time. Gotta have a (homemade) mocha while baking cookies.

Baked logs cooling slightly before I slice them. Oooold cookie sheets.

Acres of biscotti. Cinnamon in front, choc with craisins in back.

View from the other end looks just as good. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

freebie images - encyclopedia pages 1

I bought a bunch of old dictionaries and encyclopedias while in Visalia. Two encyclopedia volumes had fabulous full page drawings of a variety of things. I tore them all out, scanned them at 300dpi, and hereby make them available to you. They'd be great printed over top of old wallpaper patterns or flowered papers. Perfect for layering in collages or gluebook pages.

Here are the first three pages. I'll share many more over the next week or so.

Please don't sell the sheets of images but you're welcome to sell items you've made using them. I'd love it if you'd link back so others can find and use these. Enjoy.

Friday, November 18, 2011

steampunk mailart

I just finished a doodled postcard swap for swapbot. Once you were assigned a partner, you looked at their profile, then doodled something they'd like on their card. No need to be a great artist, it's just supposed to be fun. My victim partner was into steampunk and as I thought about it, I knew I didn't want to just doodle something on a piece of cardstock.

It needed atmosphere.

I poked thru my old books and tore the back cover off an old edition of Treasure Island. I glued an aged blank page from another book onto the cover, then lettered the word(s?) 'steampunk' onto it. I sort of tangled the letters a bit, stamped a couple images and some sequin waste, then glued on a few old metal bits from my little collection of junk, including an old key. Put grommets in the top corners in case she likes it enough to hang it on the wall, plus an extra at the bottom just for the hell of it. Maybe she can add her own chains and charms or whatever steam punkers are into.

The other side is the inside back cover illustration of a ship on the high seas. Some previous owner made a check mark that I just ignored.

I gave it a good coating of gloss gel and varnish to protect it a bit, and I'm mailing it off tomorrow. God know if it'll get there in one piece - it's old and somewhat brittle. We'll see.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

free images - from an old book

I tore these from an old book some time ago. The lady with the monkey fascinates me. A monkey? Maybe they were more common as house pets back then? And I love the couple on the stairs. What's the story there? He has her parasol in one hand and some books. On the way to the park? Or they're back from the park and she's peeved with him for some reason. He looks like he's trying to placate her, doesn't he? Come on, honey. I just glanced at her for a second.

Click on the pic to embiggen, then right click to save. scanned at 300dpi

just give me a gun...

I said, get back in the kitchen and finish them dishes!

I believe this is Bonnie and Clyde, but the caption is gone so I'm not sure. It was stuck in an old Life mag I bought while in Visalia. He doesn't look real worried so maybe he knows the gun isn't loaded. I like her shoes.

Winnie and the great pumpkin

A friend at work gave me a pumpkin the other day, left over from Halloween with her kids. My intent was to whack it up, bake it, and make pumpkin puree so that I could make some of the yummy-looking pumpkin recipes that are all over the net right now.

But after wrestling the thing around the kitchen for ten minutes just trying to get it cut up and gutted, I cried 'uncle' and gave the bottom half to the bird. Winnie is about 5 inches tall, a small mean as a pit of snakes African red-bellied parrot with a bite like a barracuda, and the pumpkin was about 14" tall and in diameter, so the bottom half was huge and at first he was a little scared of it when I plunked it on top of his cage. But Winnie is nothing if not foolishly brave, so after a couple moments he climbed up onto the edge. He stayed up there for about 20 minutes, ripping hunks off the rind and flinging seeds around the kitchen and picking pumpkin slime off his feet. He didn't jump in and wade around the middle of it like he did with my plate of spaghetti last year and my bowl of cereal last week.

I made pumpkin fries (along with sweet potato fries) and pitched the rest over the fence for the wild critters. I'm sure homemade pumpkin puree is wonderful but I'll take mine in a can, thanks. My poor hands just can't handle the weight and gripping that goes into cutting up a big pumpkin.

See the big bite marks in the foreground? I have scars shaped just like that.

I got pumpkin slime on my feets.

That thing at bottom left is a flip-flop that he's been working on for a month or so.