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So, About This NLWM

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Right now I am furiously trying to wrap up NLWM, otherwise known as National Letter Writing Month.

It used to be sponsored by the United States Post Office, but I don’t think they’re involved any more.

Ironically, they caused me a little stress over it this year. I’ll get to that story in a minute.

Anyway, I knew going into it I’d be gone for half the month, so I meticulously planned it out so I could play and still take my trip.

While we were in Maui I got cards made for all the 70+ participants. This year I decided to stick to a theme, and for me, that was tropical images. I found a luscious set of papers from Graphic 45 and went a little cray cray with a fancy design that called for a lot of cut and paste (my favorite.)

Then embellishing got a little out of hand, as well. You may remember that as I cut out components I posted vague photos building to the big finish. The rules of NLWM say we can’t post photos of finished work until after they are received so it will be a surprise to the recipient/s so I had to keep it to myself, as much as it distressed me to be a teaser.


And wouldn’t you know it, I forgot to take a photo of the finished cards before I mailed them.

JUST KIDDING! I’m way to full of myself to let THAT happen!

Once we arrived home from Maui, I printed out a couple of my favorite photos to use as postcards for the group. All 70+ participants received the palm tree photo, and the 35+ “madness” participants got the “Maui Love.”

What is madness, you ask? Well, those are the crazy people who agree to write to everyone in the madness group and answer all mail received, from regular players who decide to send us a little treat, as well as all those in the group.

So here’s where the “ironic stress story” starts.

My executive assistant  (aka Mr. Tattered) has the task of letting the post office know that we’ll gone and request that they put a hold on our mail. There have been some issues in the past, so he took the notification to the post office, and backed it up with a second request in our mailbox.

Fast forward to our return home, and he went to the post office to pick up our mail, knowing that with my goofy project, there should be LOTS.

But, (and here’s where the ironic part comes in) the lady at the “service counter” said that not only was there no mail being held for us, there was no record that we ever requested a hold. I’m participating in a thing that benefits the post office (the math is a little tricky, but it doesn’t take a whiz to figure out that it is not cheap to fully participate, especially when you add in that some of the ladies are in foreign countries to the tune of a minimum of $1.40 a whack) and we have no mail. IMPOSSIBLE.

So, thinking they must have figured out a way to cram it all into our box (no way, no how!) he went all the way back home to check.

Empty, except for the back up card requesting the hold.

At this point, he turned mail retrieval over to me.

I went to the post office, stood in line (toddler in tow) and eventually came face to face with a clerk. Fortunately, not THE clerk, but one of her co-workers.

“Good morning,” I say (passive/aggressively, because it is definitely NOT a good morning at this point, as I fantasize about all my beautiful mail being lost out there in the universe,) “You are dealing with a pissed off customer. Would you like to handle it, or turn me over to a supervisor now?”

He says, “Well, tell me what the problem is, and I’ll see what I can do.”

So, I nicely launch into my story about what we did, my participation in NLWM, my beautiful cards (maybe 100 of them, I say) being unaccounted for, my husband’s earlier unsuccessful visit, and how upset I am. I show him the photo my husband texted me of the almost empty mailbox which included the notification card…

He looks at it carefully, says, “Okay, let me check…” and walks off, only to return a minute later with a big ol’ stack of mail, which obviously contained a LOT of very pretty envelopes. “Well, I don’t know what happened, but here it is, right where it was supposed to be. I’m sorry for the the inconvenience.”

I was tempted to launch into a tirade about incompetence, and no wonder so many people hate the post office…but my pile of happy mail made me smile, and all was instantly forgiven. ALMOST. I still had a little whining left in me, but my mail was safe.

And that’s where I realized my planning hadn’t been so good. I neglected to make cards for those responses that were going to need to be sent out.

Truth is, I COULD have gone to the store and bought a gazillion thank you cards, but have you met me? That’s just not how I roll.

They HAVE to be hand made. HAVE to.

So, after opening all my treasures, and logging who I need to respond to (and how many times, so I’d know how many new designs I need to come up with!) I was ready to design new cards.

Yeah, I think I’ll tease you again…






Welcome To Crazytown!

I know, I disappeared again.

I have a FULL life.

And I mean really full! To the point where living it is cutting into the time I have to write about it! Heeheehee!

Since returning home from Maui, I’ve been chasing-my-tail busy.

I don’t know how I let this happen. Well, yes I do. I want it all, and I want it all NOW! And if I have to stuff 30 hours worth of time into a 24 hour period, and 10 days into a week, well, so be it.

I don’t seem to have any concept of the idea of scheduling downtime. It’s just run, run, run.

As I try to figure out what I can weed out, there just doesn’t seem to be anything. It’s not like I’m doing a bunch of things I don’t want or need to do. And unfortunately, society dictates that I need to shower every once in awhile, and if that has to happen at midnight, it has to happen at midnight. I can sleep when I’m dead. I find that it would be very useful if I could have 5 of me living my life, but I’m guessing that isn’t going to happen.

ANYWAY, back-to-back vacations probably weren’t a GREAT idea, but the timing was sort of beyond our control. So we came home from one trip, emptied our suitcases onto the floor and started repacking.

Hannah needed some “excursion” clothing for our trip to the Galapagos, so that took a little shopping, and since we had a 20% off coupon at REI, I decided getting a pair of good hiking boots to start breaking in for our hiking tour next spring was a good use of time – well, it WAS next spring. I think it’s getting shifted to the fall…

The rest? Well, I didn’t want to miss National Letter Writing Month, and that took a bit of preparation. Okay, more than a bit. I get a little carried away. But it’s only one month a year, and I really like it. I COULD have crossed it off the list, but no. Some things are worth stressing a little over.  I got the cards and envelopes made while we were in Maui, but then they needed to get written in…and mailed before we left.

To those I added 2 postcards made from photos I took in Maui that I really wanted to share with my writing buddies. I do put some of this stress on myself.



I committed to decorating a cake for Bea’s class at school for a celebration, and that turned out to be a bit more of a project than I bargained for, but again, it’s one of those things that’s worth a little stress. I have to keep up my Gaga creds, after all. The timing couldn’t have been worse, but again, out of my control. It had to happen.

Before I knew it, it was time to leave for the Galapagos (with a side trip to Universal Studios to roller coaster ourselves silly!) for an action-packed 2 weeks, and finally home. I slept for 12 hours the night we got home!


Waiting for me were about 100 (give or take) pieces of mail from NLWM that need to be answered, an Easter tree that needed to get taken down and changed over to just a spring tree (unless I get lazy and just shift right into 4th of July -nah, I don’t think I can let myself do that,) and a bunch of unpacking and putting away.

Now Hannah has a report she needs to do about her trip, and she’ll need a little help with that. And as if I wasn’t crazy enough, all these pictures need to be whittled down (we took them on 4 different cameras! Heeheehee!) and loaded onto the computer. What are the chances they’ll make it into a scrapbook? Jeez, I don’t even have the photos from CUBA sorted yet, let alone the blog posts I promised about THAT trip.

Then there’s finishing touches to be put on the Africa trip (we went to the doctor for our malaria meds today!) and trying to figure out what we’ll be doing for our fall trip next year – the Euro downturn has convinced us we probably need to schedule a European vacation for fall of 2018 and shift China to the 2019. Yeah, first world problems…

And those are just the BIG things – add in all the little stuff and day to day operations… I’m exhausting myself just thinking about it.

The bottom line is, I’m crazy nuts, and loving ALMOST every minute of it!



Where Did The Day Go?

I woke up this morning, and before I knew it, it’s almost time to go to bed.

Where did the day go?

I was actually quite productive, and that’s probably why it flew by!

I started the day trying to decide between what I NEEDED to do – work on my cards for National Letter writing Month, and what I WANTED to do – work on my beading.

Well, I was a responsible girl and worked on my cards.

Over the last week I have been working on the components – making tags, cutting backgrounds, popping out circles. Today I finished the prep work.

And since I was on a roll, I decide to start constructing them. I really, really, really want to show you the finished card (I’m kinda impressed with myself!) but we’re not supposed to show the finished work until they are received by the participants.

I got 50 of my 75 cards completed (only because I ran out of base cards) and was STILL on a roll, so I started the envelopes as well, and completed 50 of them. With those, I got a little cray cray. I wasn’t coming up with a group of three shapes I liked ready-made, so I actually drew out a little starfish, and hand cut 75 of the little suckers out. Heeheehee!


I spent hours and hours working on them, barely coming up to breathe or eat (but I DID get my 10K steps in!) and I guess that’s why the day disappeared so fast!

Tomorrow I’ll go across island (again!) and pick up the last 25 bases I need to continue, so until then, I may be able to get a little beading done (before I forget how to do it!)


I’m Still Alive!

…Although to check in on the blog, you’d have to wonder!

It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say, or haven’t “done” anything, but more like just not taking the time to sit down and document it. Life getting in the way of the blog, so to speak. THAT makes me laugh!

So, I guess this post is presented to “get you caught up” on the craziness that is my life! If nothing else, it’ll help you appreciate yours!

We arrived home from the Chile/Antarctica trip just in time to get the Christmas decorations up. My daughter and DIL put the tree up for me and got the lights on it. They would have decorated it themselves, but it HAS to be done a certain way, and I wasn’t about to make them responsible for that (or let them be?) Heeheehee! I actually got it all completed by Christmas Eve, in time for our every year celebration at our house.


I’d promised Mr. Tattered that I would get my pitiful garden ripped out and prepare for starting over after the holidays, and before I knew it, the new year was here. I watched the kids during the week, and worked on the garden on the weekends.





I had every intention of getting back in the swing of blogging, but there kept being issue after issue – nothing creative going on, having problems with my photo editing program, busy, busy, busy.

Plus, I needed to get the Christmas decor down and put away, and that is a task I dread. It seemed like the decorations multiplied every time I turned the lights out. I finally got it all down, but truth be told, there are still some boxes in the bedroom that need to go up in the rafters!

Somewhere in there was a trip to Las Vegas to do the paperwork for our “global entry” cards – useful in getting back into the country after being overseas.


And, no. We did NOT stay at Trump Towers, but it was the first thing I saw from our hotel room.

Then there was a birthday cake to make for Lexi’s birthday,


a little day trip to Daffodil Hill,


and getting my cards ready for National Letter Writing Month. I couldn’t fully participate this year because I wasn’t going to be home to receive mail so I could answer it, but the admins let me have the addresses for all the 40+ “madness” players so I could at least mail them each a card!






The more time that went by, the harder it was to get back into the blog. Then came spring, and with it our BIG vacation, which took us out of town for over 6 weeks – a few days in Barcelona, 3 weeks cruising the Mediterranean, and 3 weeks in the UK.  And now it’s nearly June!

Well, it’s now or never – I either get my act together, or I quit blogging. At this moment I don’t know which will win.

We’ve been home for a few days, and we’ve emptied the suitcases into piles on the living room floor, putting away a few things each day. I’m back to watching the kids, and it’s slow going with getting things shaped up. I had big plans for accomplishing a LOT over the three day weekend, but we’ve watched t.v. caught upon mail, gone grocery shopping, and to a family birthday party instead. One day left. I REALLY need to make a dent.

I have lots of material for blogs – I took a ton of photos, and plan to do an abbreviated overview of the trip. I sort of thought I’d be able to get it started while we were gone, but unlike most cruises where we’ve had sea days, this one was wall to wall outings every single day of the cruise, then 3 weeks running around every day in the UK. The blog just took a back seat. Poor thing. I think I nearly killed Mr. Tattered. He is REALLY glad to get home and be able to rest.


Here we are.

Are you up for hanging out with me while I get back into the swing of things?



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!

National Letter Writing month 2015

April is National Letter Writing Month. At a time when so few people rely on snail mail, it’s kinda nice to go to the mail box and find pretty envelopes one month out of the year.

This is my 3rd year to participate in a pen pal mail exchange with a group of ladies, spearheaded by our fearless leader, Lindsay Ostrom.

Some of the things I like best about it are the opportunity to make a bunch of cards that actually go somewhere, using my gelli plate, and doing production work. The downside of no longer selling the things that I make, is that I no longer do much in the way of production work, and I REALLY like it.

Today I whipped out the last 25 cards for round one of mailing (I have a pen pal that I will be sending a minimum of 4 pieces of mail to, plus I’m on the crazy mailers list for people who want to send more mail – there are 46 of us! That’s down from last year when there were about 125 participants, and I sent one note to each. Yikers!) This year Linz decided it was getting unmanageable and limited participation to the first 100 to register and you had to sign up to be on the crazy mailer list!

Anyway, it’s been ages since I’ve had my gelli plate out, so I thought I’d show you my process.

First I laid down a background. I chose ivory, lavender and lime green for the base.


As soon as I started playing, I knew I was going to be absorbed for hours, which meant even if the weather improved I probably would’t be getting many steps in. So, I set up a station for drying the cards that created a little track so I was walking back and forth, back and forth, taking cards over and moving them back to add each layer. If I’m going to get my 10,000 steps in and still have time to do my art, I’m going to have to do some double duty when I can!


Anyway. They sure don’t look very impressive with just the base layer!



The lavender swirls and pink accent helped spruce it up a little, but still kind of “meh.”



Even the next layer of ink didn’t help a lot.



A little added pink paint…



…and a few purple accents and we’re getting there.



But the ink doodling is what pulls it all together.


I just LOVE doing these, but I don’t need many cards in my day to day life. So I’m glad every once in awhile a little project like this comes up so I can make a bunch!

Oh, and my steps? The weather did stay wet and cold most of the day, and I ended up doing thousands of steps just walking around in circles in the house. But the steps this morning helped. Yay me!

It’s Like An Affair…

I know…you’re probably going to be getting sick of hearing gelli plate, gelli plate, gelli plate. I can’t help it. It’s all I want to think about, talk about or do. I could mess around with it every waking hour, but alas, life demands that I do other things, so I think about it quietly, and then when a few moments come available, I sneak around and do it. I feel like I’m having an affair!

Tonight I had a good excuse. I needed to get the rest of my questionnaire for my National Letter Writing Month pen pal completed and ready to out in the mail. I’d copied one of my earlier gelli backgrounds onto writing paper, and used it to write my letter. Then there it was, the dreaded plain white envelope! Wasn’t going to let THAT happen, so out came the plate, and I quickly knocked out the base for an envelope.

But it was already set up and it seemed silly to only do one, then clean up, so I scrounged around and found a few more envelopes and did 6.


If it wasn’t so late I would have done more. But I DO need to think about getting to bed SOME time today (or early tomorrow, maybe?) so I contented myself with 6. After all, I still needed to do the pen work, too.


So. Now that I’ve mailed all the postcards I committed to myself that I would do, and finished my letter to my pen pal, I have nothing else I HAVE to do for awhile.

I’m sitting here with a box of 24 blank note cards and envelopes and a whole pad of postcard weight watercolor paper just itching to get sloppy with me. I feel an orgy coming on. I’m lucky Mr.Tattered isn’t the jealous type.

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