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Monthly Archives: April 2015

May Challenges

Hard to believe the first quarter of the year is about to close. Tomorrow is May Day (did you ever make woven paper May baskets, fill them with wild flowers, put them on the neighbor’s porch, ring the bell and run?) and the day after that is National Scrapbook Day.

I used to participate in a May blog challenge to post something floral every day for the month, but the hostess’s life got in the way, and the she’s no longer doing it. I’m trying to work up the enthusiasm to do my own personal flower challenge.

AND, I thought about doing my own personal challenge to do a 2-page scrapbook layout a day in honor of National Scrapbook Day.

Then I looked at the calendar. May is filling up fast and there is soooooooo much going on, and I’m wondering just how smart it is to intentionally, and with malice of forethought, set myself up to make me even crazier than I already am.

Then I thought, “why the hell not?” How much crazier can I get?

So. I’m going for it. Two challenges. Something floral every day (even if it is just a photo of something from the garden – and no fair pulling out old photos!) and a 2-page scrapbook layout every day. If I’m smart, I’ll figure out a way to make them do double-duty (layouts with a floral theme, maybe?) Taking a flower photo every day will be interesting – my poor garden is a MESS! I guess this will give me some incentive to get it cleaned up a little!

Here’s a little something from last year, just whet your whistle!


And SOMEHOW I also need to finish Bea’s magnets, make a cake for her birthday party, go to a retirement party (all this weekend) and plan a graduation party for our nephew who is graduating from law school in two weeks.

Yikers! I haven’t had this much on my plate since I had the store – back in the days when I could do 5 things at once blindfolded with one arm tied behind my back! I wonder if I still have it in me?

Guess we’ll find out!

Now I just need to remember 1) I did this to myself, and 2) it’s all in fun, and I’m not allowed to be mad at myself if I can’t follow through every single day.



Embracing This Mess I Call Life!

I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to “fix” me.

I jump from one self-improvement project to another, in an effort to organize, normalize and simplify my life. I can only imagine what it looks like to casual observers, since it feels like such a mess to me much of the time. It’s been that way for as long as I can remember.

But I’m coming to appreciate that this is how I do life. Busy, complicated…messy.

Believe me when I say I’ve put the time into trying to change it. But there is just too much I want to do, and I’m unwilling to give any of it up. Not the art, not the time spent helping my kids and grandkids, not traveling with Mr. Tattered, not watching my shows or pouring over art magazines or playing solitaire or doing sudoku, not scrapbooking, not fixing up the house – none of it. I want it all. And I’m willing to accept “messy” to have it. My mother always used to say that I burn the candle at both ends, and I think that may have been overly kind – more like both ends AND the middle!

My granddaughters tease me about my “hoard room.” It’s a mess. And every once in awhile, I try to purge and restore order, and sometimes I even make some progress, but it’s only a matter of days before it’s back to how it was.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it is a physical manifestation of the inside of my brain, and that it’s not going to change any time soon. I was even trying to explain it to the little one a few days ago saying, “Gaga just likes doing so many different things, and they all require their own supplies.”

So, it seems like acceptance, and yes, even EMBRACING it seems to be the only rational choice.

I’m not going to find balance. Ever. Passion isn’t balanced, and it rules my life. And although a case could be made that it needs to be reined in, I just can’t, or won’t. I love being passionate. I love how it feels way more than I hate how it looks.

No, I’m not crazy about the house full of half finished projects, and in keeping with my “one little word” – ignite – I’m trying to catch up on them, but truth be told, I’ll NEVER be completely caught up. I rarely finish one project before passion for a new one takes over, leaving the old one in the dust. I’m not giving up on doing better, but I AM going to try to stop beating myself up when I’m not successful. I’m going to try to accept that this is just me, being me. I come with stuff. Lots of it. And although I will continue to TRY to not let it impact others too much, this is who I am. Me and my stuff are a package deal.

Ha! So this is me, acknowledging that my life is messy, and not only am I accepting it, I’m embracing it.

Please remind me next time I try to FIX me, K?


My Mini-Me

Well, Bea is turning into my mini-me…all she wants to do is art.

She loves coming over and going through my supplies. And I don’t ever want her to stop doing that. But she has a birthday coming up in a few days, and I decided she needs some supplies of her own.

The idea came to me when I was wandering through Michael’s and saw a darling “owl” themed storage box that had her name written all over it. I knew she just HAD to have the box, but what could I put in it, and what would she use it for?

Well, art supplies, of course!

And the fun was on. She needed paints and her own brushes and daubers. Maybe some stencils, some ink, stamps and a bottle of modpodge (no self respecting mixed media artist can LIVE without modpodge!) And of course an art journal would be fun. And washi tape. Yeah she NEEDS washi tape.

Then I found a book on drawing fashion, which would combine another of her loves – fancy clothes!

It was taking shape nicely.

And man, it was not cheap! I don’t EVER want to calculate how much I’ve spent on MY supplies!

I would love to say that’s enough to start with, but me and “enough” have never met, and I don’t want to make its acquaintance anytime soon.


So I have a nice start on her box. I’m sure I’ll be adding more. But not too much more. I still want her to marvel at going through my stuff!

The Most Special Kind of Art

Today was an unusual Saturday because we woke up to an empty calendar. That doesn’t seem to happen very often. One of the loveliest parts of starting a day like that, is that you just never know what wonders the day will hold.

We’re in the final stages of a remodel project, and we mentioned in passing over our morning coffee that it might be a good day to put some of the finishing touches on it.

But shortly thereafter the phone rang. It was Bea, our almost-seven-year-old granddaughter calling to see if today would be good day to come over and do some art with Gaga. My heart melted!

Work on the house, or art with Bea? No contest!

She’s been asking for some time now if I could give her art lessons, but with school, piano, ballet, tumbling, and swim team, it just seems like there’s never any time.

But, she had time, and I had that empty calendar, so we made a date.

She has a birthday coming up and is doing an owl theme. I’d picked up some blank owl-shaped pieces of wood, thinking they would make great magnets for her to paint for her friend’s goodie bags, and we decided they would make a good project for “arting” together.

I didn’t have a real plan for how we would decorate them, so I just pulled out paints, paper, some little gems for the eyes, punches, and pens and thought we’d figure it out together.

Finally she arrived, smiling and so excited to get started. Mama said she’d been asking “how much longer?” all day. Her face just lit up when she saw all the supplies waiting to be played with!


We talked about what her choices were, and she decided to do a kind of “mixed-media” look (be still my heart!) She had sixteen magnets to make, a lot for a seven year old, so I asked if I could help her a little, and she agreed that was a good idea.

I buttoned her into a big old shirt to cover her pretty dress, and she picked out the colors of paint to use for her base-coating, then we got started.



Once we got all the base-coating done, she painted the feet on each little owl, then we needed to figure out what to do next.

Bea liked my idea of punching out some little flowers to use as the backing for the eyes, and all by herself came up with the idea of punching out some hearts to use for the bellies. Isn’t that sweet? She also figured out that boys probably wouldn’t care about hearts, and maybe we should use circles for the boy’s owls. She did the punching all by herself.



So we painted and glued until all the owls were decorated. I volunteered to do some simple pen work to fancy them up.


Boy Owls


Girl Owls

When we were all done, we decided the girl owls needed some heart wings, but I didn’t have any that were small enough. So, we’re going to add those, and glue on the magnets during the week. I think they need a little glitter, too…She’ll like that!

I love art  – any kind, any time – but by far the most special art is that done with a grandchild… I’m one lucky Gaga.



Sporadic Blogging

Sounds like some kind of a disease.

And it kinda is, I guess. One born out of laziness.

I love to blog. And, yes, I love that there are people out there reading what I have to say (THANK YOU!) But, the truth of the matter is, I don’t do it because I “expect” that a whole mess of people are going to read it and have their lives changed because of something I wrote.

I do it because I LOVE to write. Plain and simple.

But lately I’ve been pretty lazy about it. Blogging sporadically. There are no hard and fast rules to blogging, especially when it comes to frequency of publication, but I’ve come to expect that I will blog every day, or close to it. And I haven’t been doing it.

So what’s up?

Partly, it’s because this is supposed to be a blog about my creative journey, and I haven’t been very creative lately. Partly it’s because my mind has been mostly on politics, and I don’t like blogging on that topic here, unless I just HAVE to. Partly it’s because my primary focus (outside of providing excellent day care for my grandchildren) has been making sure I’m getting in my 10,000 steps every day. And partly it’s because I’ve just gotten lazy. Yep. Me. The energizer bunny. Or I should say, the “former” energizer bunny. I’ve gotten lazy about putting my thoughts into words.

I allowed myself to take a few days off, and that’s thrown off my whole routine. I haven’t been able to get back onto a schedule. And I’ve been terribly undisciplined.  I NEED routine and schedules and discipline, if I have any hope of doing what I intend to do. What I want to do.

AND, I’ve fallen into the habit of playing spider solitaire on the computer. It’s a worse time suck than Facebook. I start, then come up for air three hours later. Three hours of completely unproductive time that I’ll never get back. And I do it night, after night, after night.

If it’s not that, it’s sudoku.

And it needs to stop.

I think I’m a little OCD. And maybe it’s getting worse. I seem to need to do the same thing over and over. At least it’s not washing my hands or checking to make sure I locked the doors twenty times. But it is getting a little ridiculous.

I should be scrapbooking. But that requires a degree of creativity – varying what I’m doing from layout to layout. That doesn’t, however, feed the OCD.

Uh-oh. I think I may have stumbled onto something here. I need to do a little research on OCD. Wonder if it’s something you can overcome on your own? Ha! I love this self-diagnosis. And you thought I was just a little bit nuts! Heeheehee!


Postcards (creativity to the rescue!)

One of the good parts about being an artsy fartsy kinda person, is that when you need something you can’t find, you can just whip it up yourself!

Case in point.

For my letter-writing group (for National Letter Writing Month) I wanted to send those in the “mad letter writers” (a sub-group who want to send a lot of mail, not just a few things to one pen pal) a post card from Folsom. Who knew they’d be so hard to find? I found a few, but I needed 46, and most of them were kinda boring.

So what’s a girl to do? Well, make her own, of course!

I went down to the American River, one of the prettiest spots in Folsom and took a few photos. Amazingly, even in the middle of the day, my patience was rewarded with a shot with no cars on the bridge. I was so excited!


I tried printing the photos on heavy watercolor paper, but it was too thick. Plan B – print on regular paper and glue the photos onto the heavy paper.


I fancied up the back like a real postcard using my signature border (I use it a lot!)


Then my “post card” needed some embellishing…what to do, what to do?

I experimented with a few things, but nothing looked as good on the card as it did in my mind. I ended up liking just a simple look the best.


So. Problem solved, using supplies on hand and a little creativity. I’m actually kinda proud of myself. I was determined to send postcards and didn’t let a little thing like not being able to find any I liked stand in my way! Yeah, it was more work, but way worth it to send something I feel good about.

Now to get them written, addressed, and put in the mailbox!

How do you use creativity to solve problems? I’d love to hear your stories!

Reasons, Reasons, Reasons

Initially I was going to title this “Excuses, Excuses, Excuses.” But as I was writing was able to admit there are few excuses good enough to get myself out this screw up unscathed. So I’m accepting responsibility. With an explanation…or in other words, “Reasons, Reasons, Reasons.”

First the story (ridiculous as it is) followed by photos of the process.

I belonged to a now defunct ATC group. For years we did a monthly challenge, sending in 3 ATCs following the theme that the hostess for that month set. In the beginning there was lots of participation, and slots for getting to be the hostess were filled up a year in advance.

But as time went by, people’s lives changed, they got busy, lost interest, and by early 2014 we needed to invite people from outside our initial group to participate. Even then, participation was low. Hostesses backed out at the last minute, and it was a struggle to keep going.

But I really didn’t want to let the group fall apart, so I stayed and continued to be involved long after the thrill was gone. It really is just not as fun when only a few people are involved.

So. I volunteered to hostess for June. I knew I was busy, but I figured how much work could it be with so few people likely to sign up? As long as I’m done by early July, I’ll be able to handle it.

As predicted, only 3 three people in addition to myself  signed up. Piece of cake.

But then not all the cards came in, and by the time the last one arrived, it was July and we were leaving on vacation early the next morning, I was up to my eyeballs in preparations, and they would just have to wait until I got home.

Until that point, I was on solid ground. I felt completely justified in not being able to get them out until August. It was later when it got weird – almost a comedy of errors, a bit of procrastination, and, let’s be candid, everything else in my life being more important combined with a little “I don’t want to do this.”

Every time I would get to the point where I was about to force myself to sit down and take the few minutes needed to get them out, something would come up and it wouldn’t get done. They’d fall through the cracks again, and weeks, if not months would go by before I thought about them again.

At one point, I couldn’t find the cards I’d done myself and had to do them over again. I did that, not once, but twice. TWICE. SOMEWHERE in this mess I call a studio, there are 2 sets of “Hearth and Home” cards. And I have to confess, doing them over for a third time just wasn’t floating to the top of my “to do” list.

And, of course, our travels have gotten in the way, as well.

Finally, today I decided I needed to get these off my plate. Yay me! I’m igniting (you know, my word for the year – getting inspired to complete all those unfinished projects!)

And now that they are done, and the cards are in the mail, I’m wondering why I made such a big deal about it. I LOVE doing them, and now that the group is no more, I am going to miss it.

And while I’m at it, if any of you ladies involved in this fiasco (you know who you are) are reading this, my apologies. No excuses. I screwed up. And I REALLY don’t like disappointing people, and I know I have. I probably owe y’all a little sumpin’, sumpin’. But by the time I figured that out, I knew it would mean them not going in the mail today, and we know where THAT would lead!

For starters, my work area is a disaster (yet another “reason” why it’s been so hard to get in there and get this done.)


So. For these cards, I used stuff I already had on hand, and as much recycled stuff as I could. For my substrate I used old business cards a friend sent me, cut to size. To that I modpodged torn pieces of a book page, and sheet music left over from another project.


Then I laid down the first coat of paint, dried it, and added the sky color and a few accents in a deeper shade.


I’d purchased an architectural stamp awhile back (I didn’t have it when I did the 1st two sets!) and decided it would make an interesting accent.


Then I found a card I’d started with a background I’d done on my gelli plate. I thought it might look good for the hills, and cut them out and glued them on.




Then I paper-pieced a simple house out of scraps and added a few accents with my pitt pen.


A little chalking, a bit more color, and a little more pen work, and they were done.



So should I save the scraps for another project?


I’m tempted. But, no. They’re going in the trash.

And in the back of my mind I’m wondering “should I find another ATC group to hook up with?”

I know. I’m nuts.


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