Monday, November 22, 2010

Good Friends

Tonight I had a few girlfriends over to play games.  It was just a small group of us, but I had the most wonderful time.  You know how good it feels when you are around honest, open, and good people?  It makes you just almost giddy inside to connect with others who "get" you.  I'm soooooo thankful for the many friends Heavenly Father has blessed me with in my life, and hope to always continue cultivating those and new friendships.

Similarly, last weekend a group of 8 of us went on a retreat to Tyler Texas' Memory Lane Inn.  The Inn is an old early 1900 house that has been completely renovated inside.  It was GORGEOUS and comfortable.  We had such a wonderful time together.  We may not have gotten as much crafting done as we would have liked, but it's all about the camaraderie, right?  My recently published friend (can you tell how proud of her I am?), Alisa Noble was my suite mate (she's so easy to stay over with--no snoring, not an overly light sleeper.)  Also part of our awesome group were Marie Jenkins (an amazing talented lady who knows a lot about living); Cami Dilsaver (a strong, independent woman with a heart the size of Texas...and then some);  Liesl Milford (a Louisiana-bred hoot and a holler all rolled up into one funny gal) Dana Suza (truly and ARTIST--she sees life through an amazing pair of eyes), and Shannon Martinson (Pink Fish Designs jewelry crafter).  Most of these gals are friends I met just from being involved in various art groups and projects in the area.  I am always in awe of the creative talent that surrounds me.  I even get envious at times--but then I have to remember we all have different talents.  I, for example, have excellent penmanship.

But the best part of the retreat wasn't just being there for 3 days devoted wholly to creating, although that in itself is pretty noteworthy.  The amazing stories I heard from these women's lives filled me with such gratitude and admiration.  As I listened to one lady recount the horror of her son being burned by a car explosion in a mechanic shop (and the months and months of pain and hardship they went through afterward),  I felt such a love for this woman.  The things she'd gone through had been really really hard, but she was so gracious and strong in sharing.  I admire the strength she's gained from going through this, and other difficult life challenges.  I also felt my heart fill with compassion as I listened to another woman recount a part of her life when her children were very young.  Her husband, unfortunately, chose to take his own life, leaving behind a family with no form of support.  It wasn't enough that she had to fight through the grief, sorrow, and even anger of the situation.  On top of that, she was then faced with the realization that she was the SOLE provider for these young babes.  I listened to her stories of the multiple jobs she took on, just to provide food and shelter for the children--going down the way, pulling her kids in a wagon, trying to sell dried flowers.  At one point, even her own brother-in-law and his wife tried to come and "help" her by offering to take her newborn baby off her hands.  Can you imagine?  She clung tightly to those little ones and never slept more than a few hours a night, making sure she did everything in her power to keep them safe and well.  When I see a woman overcome such hardship and not only survive, but come out victorious, I am filled with the deepest feelings of respect and kinship for her.  It makes me feel better as a woman, to know there are others out there who have difficult life problems, but are overcoming them beautifully.  It's as if they're saying, "We're all in this together, Honey."

To See My Creation in a Larger Format, Please Click Here

As I'm going along in my life trying to overcome problems new and old, it's such a boost to my spirit to be with other women who are facing their own challenges--but are succeeding.  I'm thankful to those who open their hearts up wide enough for me to have a peek inside and share with them.  That is such a privilege.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thankfully Sick

It's October, which means the beginnings of campaign commercials and radio spots.  Every candidate wants us to vote for him because he's going to make a difference...  And so it goes until November 2nd, when the lots are cast and the winners are chosen.

In the United States of America, we're free to choose our elected government.  We have the opportunity to openly express our opinions regarding "the issues".   This is a wonderful luxury that most people in the world will never experience.  We all have our beliefs, what choices we think are important when it comes to voting.  I have mine, too.

But today, I don't want to talk about my political viewpoints.  I just want to stop and take a moment to express my gratitude for a wonderful Heavenly Father who has given me the blessing of living in this great country.  America is not perfect; she is an ever-changing work in progress.  But, she is still the most beautiful nation in all the world.  Hoards of people have risked, and continue to risk, their very lives in attempting to set foot upon her soil.  Why?  Because, even with all our problems, the United States still offers every man, woman, and child OPPORTUNITY.  The Great American Dream.  Part of this dream is health care.

Health care is a huge topic on the forefront of our minds, as our current President and other leaders are working to drastically change the health care system in the U.S.  Whether or not I agree with what is being done is not the issue for me today.  Today, I am just thankful that I got the health care that I needed.

I was exhibiting symptoms of having quite a serious infection (which I have experienced in the past).  The same day I decided to see a doctor, I was able to check myself in online (to avoid waiting at the doctor's office), drive less than 2 miles to the clinic, be examined and treated all within the course of 2 hours.   Wow.  Is that not amazing?

Sometimes I catch myself grumbling about some of the laws and policy changes.  I talk about how our government needs to  do this or change that.  But, as I was driving home from work today, no doubt prompted by one of those aforementioned radio spots, I couldn't help but feel gratitude for what I have been given.  I can't begin to understand the pain and poverty that so many other of God's beautiful children experience in the world.  Though by no means rich, I can't remember a single time in my life when some form of healthcare wasn't available to me when I needed it.  Even today, the homeless and penniless in the U.S. can walk into any emergency room and be served.  That is AMAZING.  I seem to take so much for granted.  Having lived in a "bubble" most of my life (I've not traveled much outside the contiguous United States), I have no real concept of what pain and suffering others have experienced.  I couldn't possibly understand how blessed I have been, unless I were to have lived and died as they have lived and died.

I am thankful, though.  I am so thankful.  My antibiotics, though somewhat nauseating, will certainly take away my maladies, leaving me healthy and happy in a matter of just a few short days.  To those living in 3rd world countries, where even clean drinking water is scarce, to experience this would be nothing short of miraculous.  

I don't know why I have been blessed to live in this nation, while so many others have not.  Certainly, I am no more loved than any of God's children.  Neither do I understand why I've been given such bounty, while my brothers and sisters throughout the world are trying to just SURVIVE.  I don't think I'll ever understand it.  The very least I can do, however, is take a small moment to express my humble gratitude; to remember what it really means to live in the United States of America.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Well, for the long Labor Day holiday weekend, Lloyd and I didn't do anything "special".  After a busy week of applications and interviews, I was definitely ready to just kick back and be HOME.  I guess it's a good thing that HOME is the place I'd most like to be the majority of the time.  We create our homes to be just such havens, do we not?

Here's a beautiful home I always loved in my hometown of Springfield, Missouri:  
The Fellows Home

The thing I love most about my HOME is that my husband is here with me.  I know, it's cheesy, but it's true.  We just like to be around each other, even if we don't speak for hours at a time.  I can be in my craft room or on my computer, and he can be playing video games or on his computer, and that's fine.  But we just like to have the other's presence nearby.

The other thing I especially like about my HOME is that it has all my favorite things to DO so I never get bored.  I love having a computer at hand for anything I can conceive of doing:  surfing, shopping, designing, emailing, chatting, etc.  When we travel away (I don't have a laptop yet), I miss my computer more than anything.  What's your favorite part about being HOME?  What makes your home special to you?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Catching Up on Creativity

Lately I've been in a "finish it" mood.  I've got dozens (no exaggeration) of crafty projects either unfinished or still in a "to do" pile.  In an effort to organize, I've been trying to finish these projects up little by little.  Besides, I paid good money for the classes to learn how to create the project.  It's like money wasted if I don't actually CREATE the project.  So, today I am showing you a few of the projects I finished this weekend.


This was the only class I took at Paper Cowgirl this year.  Cindy Gilstrap is an oh-so-talented lady who lives just down the road in McKinney TX.  Incidentally, she will be teaching this class again in October at one of our favorite vintage-inspired boutiques, Smitten, on the downtown McKinney square.

The skirt of the dress was created from strips cut from a vintage dress pattern.  I inked the edges with chestnut roan colored ink before gluing them to the styrofoam half dressform adhered to the canvas.  I believe Cindy mentioned that Cerri of Little Pink Studio sells these at her shop.

On the bodice, I used old primary school lined paper Cindy brought with her.  I liked the pinstripe effect they brought to the dress.  This spoke vintage French fashion to me.  Additionally, I decided to create a neck ruffle and pearl "buttons" to complete the blouse.  I really like how those little details added something special to the outfit.

I surely liked the finished product.  Thanks, Cindy!  Now, if I could ever get my dining room makeover complete, I'd have somewhere to hang this cutie.


My other big project I completed this weekend was my "Prim" doll.  A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be able to attend an AMAZING 3-day workshop at "The Church" in Dallas.  Debbie and Shea are the most talented and gracious ladies around.  If you haven't heard of them, they're this mother-daughter duo from California, who we were lucky enough to receive a few years ago in our Texas Heartland.  Shea's husband is in real estate and together, they had the vision to restore an old broken down Methodist church (we're talking, windows shot out, animals living inside, rusty plumbing) into an unforgettable studio and home.   Aside from being astounded by the beauty and grace of their home, I enjoyed great friends, great food, and great classes during the retreat.  Colleen Moody taught us how to make a doll, like the "Prims" she is known for.  It was actually a pretty arduous task and took more time than most "class projects" do.  But, I'm not complaining.  I feel like I really LEARNED something completely new for the first time.  Though I didn't complete my doll at the retreat, I finally got her finished up this weekend!  I'm thrilled that I even managed to get the wings sewn on properly.  

Here is the overall finished product.

This is really my favorite part:  the underdress stuff.  I used a sleeve from a dress I'd had, to create her bodice and hanging down slip under her skirt.  Under her slip are a pair of bloomers I fashioned from another odd piece of clothing I had.  It had chenille dots and delicate tat work that made for lovely bloomer legs.   My mom would be so proud of my bird wearing a slip, as she thinks it's immodest the way nowadays most women (including myself) fail to wear slips under their dresses.

Here you can see the back of my bird's dress.  What initially attracted me to the sleeve I used as the bodice (which just happened to fit around her perfectly) were the little pearl buttons.  They were the perfect thing!  I added some velvet trim to the top of the bodice (which was really just cheap Wal-mart ribbon I had soaked in    a potion of red food color and brown tea to get that perfect peachy color.)  I also had a piece of CZ chain I'd received from the generous Shea to add a little BLING BLING.  Jewelry always completes a look, in my opinion.

And the "crowing" achievement:  her crown.  The base is Dresden trim.  I added vintage accordian folded sheet music, a vintage pin, a few "diamonds" and my favorite color of Stickles--Platinum.  My crown is actually quite basic compared to some of the crowns the other ladies created for their birds!

Any ideas for names?  She needs a name.  I can't just keep calling her "bird".  

So, that's it for now, but I've got other projects to finish and blog about.  I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Quit!

The thing is, I'm not a quitter.  I'm a fighter.  I have dogged determination and tenacity.  I like to believe that with enough perseverance and hard work, eventually even the worst situation can be become positive.

However, I'm old enough and mature enough in my life now to understand that some things just don't change, no matter what you do to affect them.  That is because every person in this world has the gift of agency.  I am a huge advocate for agency, I would never want anyone to suffer life without it.  Life without agency is hopelessness.

So, with that being said, I quit.  I quit my job yesterday.  I just walked out.  No goodbyes, no see ya laters, no hasta luegos.  I packed up my stuff, laid my keys on the desk and just simply walked away.  And you know what?  It feels good.  Really good.

Sure, I'm a bit scared about what will come.  I don't have a job lined up yet, though I've been looking.  I expect there will be financial struggle for a time.  I will probably have to sacrifice a lot of things for a while.  All that being considered, I'm still happy I left.

*****Above was what happened.  Below are my thoughts about it.  
You choose how much you care to read.*****

My boss for the last 4 months has been a nightmare.  Although I find him to be charismatic and hardworking, his social skills and leadership abilities are very limited.  He can be the funniest, nicest guy you ever knew one day, and then the next he would go on tirades and belittle everyone around him.  I have nothing against bipolar people.  It's not their fault.  I just wish he'd get some help for it, so he doesn't continue to make all those around him miserable in the process.

Yesterday he said something to me that was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.  It wasn't the worst thing he'd ever said to me, or the worst experience I'd ever had there.  But it was the last.  All of a sudden, I just knew I was DONE.  I could no longer remain on this emotional roller coaster ride with him.  He was sucking the happiness and creativity out of me.  Every day at work I'd walk on eggshells waiting to see what was next...because there was always a "next".

As I was driving home, with a few tears running down my cheeks, I realized that I'd made the right decision.  I don't wish to say my situation was as bad as domestic abuse situations, wherein a woman (and sometimes children) is regularly abused (verbally, emotionally, and physically).  The pain these women suffer is far greater than what I have experienced, and I applaud those who are able to get away.  But, in a way, I felt like that's what I was doing--escaping an abusive situation.  I wasn't dealing with a rational and emotionally sound person.  When he was angry or upset, he would take it out on those around him, as he didn't have the skills to deal with his feelings appropriately.  I realized that I am not that person.  I won't be that person who continues to stay in such a situation simply because she is scared.  I am scared.  I don't know what will happen.  But I do know that I would rather sacrifice a lot of things and struggle for as long as I have to, than continue to be treated so poorly.  I deserve that.  Everyone deserves that dignity and respect.  It's just sometimes, you have to stand up and fight for it.  Most of the time, it's not about fighting another person, but fighting your own fears, weaknesses and insecurities.  It's about making yourself believe that you are worth it.  That your happiness and wellbeing are paramount.  That's a hard thing to do, especially for women, as their very nature is that of giving, serving, and sacrifice.  So often women put themselves last, as they give their all to care for their families.  The notion of doing something for herself can be almost beyond comprehension for the woman who have given every bit of who she is to her children and family.

My mom stayed with my dad, through abuse and infidelity, for 35 years until she finally gained the strength to leave him.  From my preteen years well into my thirties, I couldn't understand why she put up with it.  I judged her so harshly for staying with someone who could treat those around him, including his children, with such disregard.

As I've matured, I've come to understand more things about the intricacies of the pull of the relationship vs. the personal power within.  Whether it be a relationship with food, drugs, alcohol, an abusive mate, or even just feeling stuck in our lives, I think most everyone struggles to overcome the binding ties that keep us in that relationship.  We doubt our own personal power to break free of what we know, no matter how miserable we may be, because we fear the unknown.

Yesterday, I understood even a little bit better than I ever have before.  I know how scary it was for me to quit (as, like I said, I have never been a quitter), not knowing when or from whence the next job was coming. I can only begin to imagine the gripping fear that a mother with small children must face when she thinks of leaving her abusive situation.  Not only can she be paralyzed by fear about her own future, she knows she must also be responsible for her children's well-being.  That's a HUGE risk to take.  So sometimes, as miserable as it may be, she may continue  to sacrifice her own happiness and well-being, because she can't risk not being able to provide the essentials for her children.   I don't like it, but I understand it a little more clearly than I ever have before.

With this new insight, and the opportunity to practice faith instead of fear, I am thankful for this challenge in my life.  It has, and will, make me a stronger person.  I will be more confident, more compassionate, and more faithful.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Excitement and Resolve

Short and Sweet:

All I can say is how excited I am about my retreat this weekend at "The Church".  Incidentally, several friends are going and I can't wait to meet up with them and CREATE!  My job has been stressful for the last couple of months, so I haven't been writing much.  Mostly it's my crazy boss' fault for making my life difficult.  Two words:  BI    POLAR.  (Him, not me!)

Anyway, here's where I'm going:  The Gilded Nest.  Here's a couple of things we'll be creating (pictures courtesy of The Gilded Nest.)

HOPE Bracelet--which I definitely need right now!

Prims by Colleen Moody

So excited.  When things are going rough, three things make me feel better: 

A) Being wrapped in my husband's arms.
B) Prayer and Singing.
C) Creating Something Wonderful.
So thankful to have a life where I can enjoy all three.  I should be better about counting my blessings, such as these.  Resolved.

To those who have continued to "follow" me (even though I haven't posted since April), THANK YOU!  Thank you for checking in on me every so often.  And thank you for your kind comments.  I know I've been a slacker at replying to everyone, but please forgive me.  I DO SO appreciate your words.  I'll be better at that in the future.  Again, Resolved.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Death & Taxes

Finished!  Thank you to the geniuses at Intuit for creating Turbo Tax Deluxe!  (Did I mention my husband has worked for Intuit? :)  This is me tonight (1:33am) doing the happy jig:

Dancing Queen

Monday, April 12, 2010

May Day Petite Basket Swap

Recently I’ve enjoyed participating in a few different online swaps.  The latest of these (May Day Petite Basket Swap) is being hosted by the wonderful, Jenny Fowler, of Fated Follies.  The idea was to get a “petite” basket and fill it with little vintage goodies for your assigned swap partner.  You may see an obvious pattern in the swaps I’ve been electing to participate in (small, small, small). 

Over the last month or so, I’ve enjoyed collecting items for my swap partner, Stephanie Lewin of TartDeco, as I rummage through estate sale findings and antique store booths.  You’re not always exactly sure what your partner will enjoy most, so sometimes you resort to sending items that you yourself enjoy!  That was the case with me and the basket I sent this time.  I sent some of my faves for creating:  Vintage trims, linens, laces, ephemera, bookprint, sheet music, flowers, buttons, etc.  I hope Stephanie can make use of them!

I wanted to make sure the small items didn’t all fall out in transport, so I used a basket plastic for the first time.  I have to say that using my heat gun to melt the plastic around the basket was very enjoyable to my inner-pyro.  Here it is all sealed up and ready to go!

And here are a couple of pictures of the petite basket I already received from that on-the-ball girl!  I so appreciate her thoughtfulness in putting together this gift.


So one of my most favoritest friends gifted me with the sweetest little “Stitch Along Kit” from Amy Powers for my birthday back in January.  At the time I was happy to receive it just because it was so dang tiny, which in my book always equals ADORABLE.  Have I mentioned my love for all things miniature?   Just seeing this little kit all contained in a small round tin, complete with mini spool of black thread, mini book with instructions, and even it’s own little pair of scissors was a total delight for me.  Admittedly, though, it wasn’t until last month that I actually dug it up from “THE PILE” in the craft room.  You know “THE PILE”.  We all have one, right?  Mine has been growing since probably about August of last year.  Last Saturday I finally went in my craft room and “tidied up” a bit and finished clearing away “THE PILE” altogether.  Yippee!  What a refreshing feeling.
But, I digress.  (Which if you know me is so atypical for me—yeah right.)  Anyway, so sometime last month, after seeing everyone’s posts about their 39 Squares, I was feeling a bit left out.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I didn't feel left out enough to actually attempt the 39 squares project, but I figured I could be a part by working on the mini-sampler I’d received.

As it turns out, I really enjoy embroidery!  I’ve always admired the delicate work of others’ nimble fingers as found on vintage hankies, doilies, tablecloths, etc., but I never thought I would actually catch the “embroidery bug” as I have.  Thanks, Alisa!   It was with great delight  that as I sat watching all my manufactured drama shows (I LOVE me some “REALITY” tv!), I was able to simultaneously crank out fun little stitch after stitch.  I was thrilled with the ease of following Amy’s example and found great satisfaction in my completed formations.  I LOVED learning how to do a French Knot and how this enabled me to make the cutest little fluffy sheep ever!

After finishing my mini sampler, I decided to take on something slightly larger.  While I’m still a complete novice and know fewer than a handful of stitches, I ventured out to create images that I find beautiful.  I found a picture online somewhere of this vintage shoe and decided I could “eyeball” it.  (That’s SO typical Cheryl.  I don’t know why, but I have this  insane belief that if I see something, I will be able to recreate it without a pattern.  This overconfidence is ridiculous and I have absolutely no idea why I have it.  All I know is I repeatedly fall prey to this delusion!  Weird, I know.)  So, I got out my thread library and went to work.
It’s surprising how much time actually goes into creating something so small.  One who has never stitched, would not understand how something so seemingly trivial has taken a large investment of time and concentration.  I didn’t understand this, myself, until I spent countless hours on this shoe (and it’s far from perfect!) 

Knowing what I’ve invested in each piece, however, brings me greater satisfaction than I would have previously imagined.  Do other stitchers feel this way, too?

Thursday, April 01, 2010


Today I just wanted to state how very thankful I am for good friends.  Really good friends.  Friends who love me for ME.  I don’t have to pretend I’m something more than what I am.  They accept me with all my faults and love the good they see in me.  It’s hard to find friends like that when you’re an adult.  I’m so thankful Heavenly Father has blessed me with great and lasting friends.  Their love and kindness give me strength when I am weak and make my heart feel lighter when it is weighed down with sorrow and discouragement.  Thank you to my friends for your love.  You know who you are.  At least, I hope I’ve let you know how much I love and appreciate you so you DO know who you are.

Thinking of how thankful I am for friendship, I altered a couple of Vintage cards with two quotes that I like.  (Click on image to see it larger / more clearly.) Enjoy.

Song in Heart

And a fun one:

Cracked Egg Friend

Monday, March 22, 2010

Alice in Wonderland Tag Swap

They arrived!  My Alice in Wonderland tags came in the mail and I am so excited.  As Tim Burton’s movie Alice in Wonderland came out recently, there is much to-do regarding the Alice theme.  Karla Nathan, of Karla’s Cottage hosted a Tag Book swap, wherein we sent in 6 tags and received a tagbook back with 6 tags from different artists, as well as a cute little cover.  I was delighted to have participated (with so many others) in such a fun activity. 
As one who is not always accustomed to being a “normal” member of society, my tags were atypical of what one might expect for the Alice in Wonderland theme:
Cheryl Bass tag for Karla's Cottage Alice Tag Swap 04-10 1
Here is the adorable cover (and cutest tiny little “drink me” potion ever—you KNOW how I love miniature things) created by Karla:
Karla's Cottage Alice Tag Swap 03-10 p1
This one was created by Ruth Graham:
Karla's Cottage Alice Tag Swap 03-10 p2
This is by the lovely Michele Askeroth:
Karla's Cottage Alice Tag Swap 03-10 p3
Here’s one from Kathy Lowry:
Karla's Cottage Alice Tag Swap 03-10 p4
And this adorable one is from Rebekaha:
Karla's Cottage Alice Tag Swap 03-10 p5
Here’s the tag from Victoria Grobels:
Karla's Cottage Alice Tag Swap 03-10 p6
And finally, one from our wonderful hostess, Karla Nathan:
Karla's Cottage Alice Tag Swap 03-10 p7
Oh, but the goodness doesn’t stop there!  As a special bonus, as I had requested, my beautiful and talented friend, Nina, created an “extra” so I could have one of hers, too!
Karla's Cottage Alice Tag Swap 03-10 p8
I so appreciate everyone involved.  I had so much fun with this swap!  Now, I wonder where my tags ended up?

Monday, March 08, 2010

Rainy Day Recipe

Last Monday (a week ago, today) it rained pretty steadily all day, just as it is today.  It was the snuggle-up and stay in kind of day that you dream of.  Fortunately my husband is employed (as there are so many out there struggling!) and he had to go to work.  So, I had to snuggle to myself.  Is that possible?

I have some really happy memories from my childhood.  Not all of them are, but a lot of the ones that include my siblings are…      

except that time my older brother threw a brick at me and hit me in the forehead—I still have a scar.  Incidentally, that was the time he was in so much trouble that Mom chased him up the ladder (wooden slats nailed to the side of a 100 foot Black Walnut tree) to the treehouse.  He wasn’t about to get caught, so he jumped out of the treehouse to the trampoline below!  Mom definitely wasn’t going to follow.  By the time she got to the top of the ladder and on the treehouse platform, she realized just how high above the ground she was.  Apparently the adrenaline rush had faded and she suddenly remembered she doesn’t do well with heights.  Then, with slightly trembling hands, she tried to climb back down the ladder.  Unfortunately, she didn’t know how.  Sometimes swinging your legs over the edge, not knowing where there is solid “ground” below, can be overwhelming and paralyzing.  Mom got stuck.  As the rest of us kids (we’re 7 children) continue to watch the scene unfold, Mom started crying out for one of the boys to help her get down.  My younger brothers didn’t quite know what to do, so she told them to go find their older brother.  I don’t know how they managed to persuade him to come back to the scene of the crime, but he did.  Mom told him to climb up the ladder and help guide her down out of the tree.  My brother looked at her as if she had just escaped the Looney Bin.  He didn’t think getting anywhere near his punisher was a good idea.  He started shaking his head and backing away.  Mom all but got hysterical then, and began pleading with him to help her!  My brother, always being one to wheel-and-deal (a trait he learned early-on from my Uncle Paul who used to sell us his “cool” stuff like radio station bumper stickers and half sticks of gum) said he’d make Mom a deal.  If she wouldn’t punish him…AT ALL…he’d come up to help her down.  She readily agreed and up he went.  Obviously, this totally wasn’t fair to me, the one with blood trickling down her face, but what’s a girl to do?

But I digress (as usual).  I was remembering one of the HAPPY times with my siblings.  We lived in this old, old house that was over a hundred years old then.  Too bad I was too young then to appreciate the beauty of the gingerbread gables and hardwood floors.  The front porch was made of smooth shale, which served as a fitting gathering spot for us and our neighbor friends.  In the summer heat, we would lay out flat in our shorts and tank tops to feel the year-round coolness of the stone.  The porch was equally appealing in the winter and spring-time (Missouri has GREAT seasons!)  When it rained and stormed outside, sometimes we’d gather up our heaviest blankets and quilts and head out to the front porch.  I still remember an old patchwork quilt (that had purple marbled fabric on one side) that was so heavy and comfy I’d always be first to grab it!  And there we’d sit, watching the rain, snuggled up together on the front porch, just me and my siblings. 

I don’t know why certain memories stay with us and others don’t.  There doesn’t really seem to be any rhyme or reason to it.  But, I’m glad I have these happy ones of my simple childhood growing up in southern Missouri.  What rainy day memories do you have?

So, here’s the recipe I cooked last week when it was raining (like it is today) and I didn’t have my husband or my siblings to snuggle with.  It’s a very tasty LOWFAT and easy to make Southwestern Chicken and White Bean Chili recipe.  I keep most of the products in my pantry so I can whip it up on just such days.

2 TBSP Olive Oil
2 tsp Garlic Powder
2 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Oregano
½ tsp Cayenne Pepper (ground red pepper)
1 large (or two small) can diced Green Chilies
1 white onion, diced
1 bunch green onion, diced
1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
2 cans fat free Chicken Broth
4-6 cans White Pinto or Navy Beans (I use “Great Northern” beans)
3 pounds cooked, cubed chicken breasts (or, you can use 2 large cans chicken breast,  drained*)

Prepare chicken breasts (cook), cut into small cubes/chunks. (Skip this step if you are using canned chicken.)
Dice green onion, white onion. Chop fresh cilantro (cut off stems first and throw away).
In large soup pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add white onion, green onion, and cilantro. Cook 4-5 minutes or until vegetables are slightly clear.
Lowfat Southwest White Bean Chicken Chili 1
Stir in chicken broth, chicken, green chilies and spices.
Lowfat Southwest White Bean Chicken Chili 2
Cover and simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat.  Stir in beans.
Lowfat Southwest White Bean Chicken Chili 3
Return to heat.  Cover and simmer another 15 minutes.  Serve warm.  You can cut the recipe in half if you don’t want a giant pot full.  Enjoy!

Honorable Mention

I feel so privileged to have one of my comments featured on Karen Valentine's beautiful blog, My Desert Cottage.  She had asked why we love blogging.  I love it when someone asks me a question that causes me to really think about something.  My response continues to prove honest and heartfelt for me every day.

I love blogging, though I've only been doing it a short time, like you, for so many reasons. Obviously I love the friendships and support you develop from your interactions with other bloggers. I love the whole concept of people being willing to "wear their hearts on their sleeves" so to speak. People can be so closed in "real life" sometimes, but in blogland, people are willing to reveal themselves in a more intimate way than imaginable. I love that! 

My favorite thing about blogging, however, is it's not just something I DO. It has become an extension of who I AM. Does that make sense? Blogging causes me to really THINK about the way I live life, because I know I'll probably be blogging about it later. That doesn't mean I do things just so I'll have something to blog. No. But knowing that I will be blogging, sharing the most authentic part of who I am (through my words and artful creations), I want to LIVE fully. I want to create with passion. I want to be the best version of ME I can. If something can inspire one to live daily life with such purpose, it must be a truly wonderful experience.

I just read on someone's blog the other day (sorry, can't remember whose!) that according to an 1800 something version of Webster's Dictionary, Romance means "a style of living". 

That so spoke to me because that's how I want my life to be... ROMANTIC. That doesn't mean I want roses and candy and hot passionate sex (though I'm certainly not knocking those!), but it means I want to live in a style that feels true, authentic, and inspiring! Blogging inspires that in me.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Pretty Vintage Email Button

While I'm not any kind of web genius, and I am definitely NOT a programmer (though my husband is and STILL won't help me with this stuff), I've learned how to create an e-mail button for my blog.  This is the type where you don't have to show the whole world your email address (to avoid spammers), but if someone wants to contact you, she can.  If you'd like to use this button, I'd love to share it with you!

This is a 200x200 size image, which means it will fit well in one of your sidebars.  Now, the tricky part is making it work as a link, not just a picture.  Here's what you do (instructions for Blogger):

Go to your dashboard and click "Layout".   There you should see a tab that says "Page Elements".  (You will probably already be on "Page Elements" by default.  In one of your sidebar columns, select "Add a Gadget".   Now, in the open box (below where it says "Title"), paste the following code:

As you have probably already figured out, you will need to replace where it says "" with your actual email address.  For example, you might type in "".  Click save, to save your new gadget.  Then click save to save the update to your layout.  Voila!  That's it!  (Hope this works for you.  If not, I don't know if I'll be much help trying to make it work for you, but I can try! :)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Personality Types

I came across a post today on The Blog Herald.  The author, Andrew was discussing an article he had read wherein 64 graphic designers were given the Myers Briggs personality test.  If you've ever been a candidate for any kind of professional job, you may've been asked to take this test, as potential employers often use it as tool to "identify" your "fit" within their company.  

Though it's been several years since I had taken this test (and thought I had forgotten what "type" I was), it was interesting to note that upon reading the type descriptions, I quickly recalled that I am an ENFJ.  ENFJs are generally regarded as "Warm, empathetic, responsive, and responsible. Highly attuned to the emotions, needs, and motivations of others. Find potential in everyone, want to help others fulfill their potential. May act as catalysts for individual and group growth. Loyal, responsive to praise and criticism. Sociable, facilitate others in a group, and provide inspiring leadership."  While this is written in the most flattering way (there are no negative attributes given), I DO feel this adequately describes me and my motivations.  So, I'm still wondering what the majority of the 64 graphic artists turned out to be?  Any guesses?
What personality type do you see yourself as?  Care to share?  Click HERE to read a brief synopsis of the 16 types.  

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Choose Your Colors!

So I was reading in one of my favorite magazines today (second only to US Weekly...I know, it's trash, but I'm hooked), Where Women Create, and came across a fun little sidebar in the article about The Paper Source:

"...our 'Colorscope' is also about coordinating colors– and then learning how those colors reflect your personality. Our founder Sue felt that a person’s favorite colors revealed something interesting about them, and thus was born the Colorscope. Try it, pick out your two favorites...and read what they tell you about yourself. Just as I’m wowed by how our colors work together, I’m blown away by how my favorites really speak to who I am."

How fun is this, right?  I mean, I know, it's kind of like rubbing a Magic Eight Ball or picking Lotto numbers based on what your fortune cookie reads, but I can't help myself!  When it comes to mini-quizes, personality-tests, or any other type of prediction game, I'm in!  (Remember that game MASH?  Where's my Lamborghini, 6 kids, Mansion, and husband Patrick Swayze?)

So, you can imagine how thrilled I was to come across one of these "pick it and your universe will unfold before you"  things from such a reliable source as The Paper Source!  Why not join in the fun with me?!

Here're the Descriptions
(Because it can be too tiny to read!)

You enjoy life and good health to the fullest. Be careful of those around you, your personal power and financial success can overwhelm them.

Grand adventures are part of who you are. You are assertive with powerful energy. People feel like they are your close friends moments after they have met you. You explore the inner meaning of life.

Finding a balance and creating a nurturing environment is important to you. You also love to be needed.

You are so good at making decisions. You have great strength and conviction in your beliefs. People have a hard time figuring you out, but can always count on you for a crazy adventure.

You listen carefully to everyone around you but really listen for information and details, not emotions. You have amazing logic. You need to find refuge–a place for yourself. P.S. You are also a flirt.

You are a dedicated party person who hides your sensitive and sentimental side. Although you are pessimistic about your personal dreams, you are incredibly skilled at innovation. You are fearless in your dress and put together the most unusual combinations.

A great champion of the helpless and defender of the underdog, you have an amazing ability to get things done, as well as to fix things.

You are very lucky with opportunities appearing like magic. You are an enchanter, attracting people to you. You are open and enthusiastic.

Curious, enthusiastic and easily stimulated, you are a magnet for opportunity and every new idea. Be careful not to over stimulate yourself, but learn to focus.

You know who you are and what you want. Popularity, money and power are all yours. You are kind and generous to your friends. You love to have fun at parties, especially if you are in charge. You are also a perfectionist and you state your opinions boldly.

Courageous and passionate, you have a playful side that balances your serious and spiritual nature. You are confident and not afraid to take action. Remember that the journey is often more important than the outcome of your endeavors.

You are inspirational. You are sympathetic and empathetic. People love to be around you because you make them feel important.

You are able to gently say the things that your friends need to hear. You have a lovely smile but you need to smile much more often. You are too serious and you need to be more tolerant of failure–both in yourself and in others.

Your appearance is amazing–you always know what looks good on you. You are charming, concerned with the reaction of others and find balance in life. When in a bad mood you may have the tendency to see only the negative.

You are intuitive and have the extraordinary ability to find the center of things. You can predict the future and have a fabulous sense of fashion. You are a great advisor to your friends.

Friends know that you are the shoulder to cry on. With inexhaustible energy, you are a great team builder. Love relationships are very important, but usually you are the more supportive and unappreciated half.

You are traditional and reserved on the surface, yet you are a renegade at heart. Your demeanor is steadfast and mysterious. Popularity is not important to you,–which makes you all the more enticing to others.

You are very attractive, talkative and have beautiful, expressive eyes. One of your greatest assets is your sincere love for those around you. You are in touch with your emotions and help others get in touch with theirs.

You are the one that everyone should ask for advice because you stay objective and don't get petty. You need space and like opinions, especially in love relationships.

You have a classic style, are a romantic, easy to love, and people find you appealing. Some may think of you as quiet, but you are really thinking deeply about what is going on around you, and then coming up with the perfect solution.

You are down to earth, comfortable with who you are and have a great ability to find joy in life. You don't take things personally, you rebound from failure, and go for what you want.

As an activist you have the power to change the world. Both admired and loved as a friend, you must learn to appreciate both yourself and what you have accomplished.

Pressure stimulates you and you like setting goals for yourself. You are exciting, curious and are great at parties. You surround yourself with lots of unusual people and have loose boundaries.

Committed to making the world a better place, you have strong faith and a calming effect on your friends.

You are highly emotional and very loyal to your friends. You are disciplined, an overachiever and very serious. You have a keen understanding of the past and are aware of why things happen the way they do.

Though for me it was VERY difficult to choose only two "favorites" (I'm a color-junkie), I chose leaf and strawberry, though lake and fuschia were near tie-breakers!  What were your two favorite colors?  Do they accurately describe you?  Please share with me! 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Living Life Amid the Thorns

Ah, blessed Saturday evening!  Thankfully my sweet one and I got our errrands done early today, and decided instead of going out, we'd just hang at home.  After spending about an hour returning things to their rightful place in the studio, I decided it was time to try to "catch up" on some of my favorite blogs.  (Does anyone else feel sad when the Google Reader toolbar says "434"-- meaning there are 434 posts I haven't caught up on yet?)  So many people I want to visit, so little time! 

One of my biggest problems in blogland,  I think, is that I get so easily sidetracked.  I'll start by reading one of my favorites, and then I just have to stop and comment.  (I'm one of those who STRONGLY believes in positive encouragement and reinforcement.)  Next thing I know, I've noticed someone else's clever or insightful comment, and I have to just "take a quick peek" to see who she is.  I tiptoe lightly over to her blog, and then it happens all over again!  I HAVE to comment on what she's so courageously shared (we are sharing our hearts and souls here!)  Next thing you know.....   You get the idea.  And so, 2 hours later, I'm down to "433" and have found 3 new blogs to "Follow"! 

I came across the wonderful blog of a gal who lives right here in my own area (Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex).  Ordinarily, I'd love to share her with you, but I don't want to overstep.   She mentioned in one of her posts that she had been feeling blue lately (largely in part to an infection she'd been overcoming AND the winter gray skies.)  She also commented about a loved one accusing her of throwing a "pity party" and it just broke my heart.  As someone who struggles with depression (and Seasonal Affective Disorder), I could SO feel her pain. 

At that moment, I just had to stop and send her a personal email letting her know that I can empathize.  I've dealt with depression for many years now and a few months ago, I too, was recovering from a serious infection.  The antibiotics can really reak havoc on your emotions! 

Then, because I STILL felt like I really wanted her to KNOW that she was understood and valued ('cause, really, isn't that what we all want?), I thought, "I'll just create a quick digital collage with a quote I like for her to print and hang."  Well, if you're anything like me, "quick" is a word that is incongruous with "create".  Another 2 hours later, I finished my small 5x7 collage and attached it to my email. 

I'm not trying to "boast" or say what a good person I am or anything.  Not at all!  I hope it doesn't come across that way.  I just SO know how alone one can feel at times due to illness, tragedy, or circumstances beyond our control.  I'm so thankful for my blogging community that gives me the opportunity to connect with others who are going through tough things, too.  It allows me the opportunity to forget about my worries and focus on caring for another, if but only in a small way.

Live Collage meant to print as 5x7 or smaller.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Drawing Winner!

Whew!  Valentine's Day came and went and I haven't gotten around to declaring the winner of my Blogaversary drawing until now!  So sorry to leave y'all hanging in utter suspense (I know you couldn't sleep at night just wondering if you could possibly be the lucky recipient of this Oh-So-Lovely Love Journal)! 

I put all the names in the "hat" and the winner is...........

Well before I announce the winner (suspense done American-Idol-Style, which I find to be uber-annoying), I'd like to show you a sample of my husband's endearing handwriting.  (p.s. I LOVED all your comments about your loved ones' quirks!  So much fun!  Thanks for sharing.)  This is from the inside of the Valentine's Day card he gave me.  I hope he doesn't hate me for broadcasting it to the world...aka Blogland. 

Isn't he the sweetest, most adorable husband EVER?! 

I hope y'all enjoyed Valentine's Day as much as we did!  And, Sarah (yep, you won it, baby!) I hope you and John enjoy the Love Notes journal, too! 

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Love Notes and Blogaversary

My friend, Alisa, passed along a fantastic idea:  a conversation journal.  The idea is for you and the loved one to leave little notes for one another periodically.  However, instead of having little post-its (not wedding vows, Grey’s Anatomy fans) and scraps of paper to try to keep up with, all the notes can be kept secure in one nifty little place. 
Lloyd & Cheryl 5th Wedding Anniversary 121009 4x6 size 1
I love my dear sweet husband, Lloyd.  He is the most loving man I’ve ever known and treats me better than I ever imagined anyone would treat me.  He’s kind and honest and sensitive, and has amazing patience with me.  He has so many wonderful qualities, but good penmanship is not one of them.  Though he’s smarter than most people, he just never seemed to get the point of taking time to write properly.  But, I love this little quirk about him.  I love getting greeting cards from him on all those special occasions:  Christmas, Birthday, Valentine’s Day, Anniversary, etc.  He always seems to pick out the most beautiful cards with verse that seems to be perfectly written about our relationship.  As much as I love these chosen words, however, what I love MORE is the personal message he always includes.  He writes little things about how much he loves me and wants to be with me forever (and sappy stuff like that, which makes my heart melt and my eyes water.)  These special occasions are the rare times I get to see his clunky and ill-formed lettering, and it just endears him to me more.  So, when Alisa mentioned the conversation journal, I KNEW this was something that I HAD to implement into Lloyd’s and my life. 
fortune cookies
One of the gifts Lloyd had given me last Christmas was this miniature book kit about Love Fortunes.  (He’s one of those “shop-on-Christmas-Eve” kind of guys and I never know what crazy thing he’s going to bring home!)  When I first opened the gift, I tried not to show my disappointment.  “What a waste of eight bucks!”  I thought.   But, being the semi-decent wife I strive to be, I graciously accepted and thanked him. 

How wrong I was!  That little silver fortune cookie and book of perforated tear-out love fortunes has been one of the best $8 we’ve spent in our marriage!  I took it in the bathroom one day to flip through while doing my business.  I saw such cute fortunes, I quickly picked one out and folded it inside the silver fortune cookie.  I left it by Lloyd’s sink for him to find.  The next morning when I got up, I was thrilled to see a new fortune waiting in the silver cookie on MY side of the vanity.  

Although we’ve run out of most of the “good” fortunes, we’ve begun adding our own little comments in addition to the generic ones printed (and no, they don’t all end in “in bed”—though I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that!  :)  I’ve so enjoyed Lloyd’s little hand-written notes and have saved all these little fortune slips for future scrapbooking layouts.

Now, with a Love Notes journal, Lloyd and I can continue our little notes to each other, but I won’t have to try to keep track of 100 little slips of paper!  I will, however, have a book full of precious love notes written in my sweetheart’s horrible handwriting to cherish forever.
Love Notes Journal 020810 1 Front

With all that said, I decided that since I missed my 1 year blogaversary (during which most bloggers offer a giveaway as a celebration), it was time to offer a giveaway to anyone kind enough to follow me here.  I’m going to giveaway this lovingly-crafted (notice I used my paper toasting technique) “Love Notes” journal so you and your loved one can share in the fun!  (Or, if you’re not currently involved with someone—take this opportunity to use it as a journal for yourself, and write about YOU and the things you LOVE about yourself!)

The rules:  You don’t have to comment unless you feel like it.  If you’d like to be included in the giveaway drawing, however, I will need you to email me or otherwise leave your name and some way I can contact you (email address, blog address, facebook ID, whatever.) 

If you DO choose to leave a comment, what I’d like to know is this:  what’s your favorite quirky thing about your significant other?  And if you don’t have a significant other (which I TOTALLY get because I was single a LONG time!), tell me about a favorite quirk about a family member or friend, or even your pet!

Finally,  it is not  requisite that you click on the “Follow Me” tab to the right to follow my future postings on this blog.  However, I’d be thrilled to add new readers/friends.  I’ve so enjoyed the friendships and connections I’ve been developing over this last year in blogland and hope to continue to do so.

Drawing will occur on Valentine’s Day 02-14-10 (Sunday).  I’ll announce the winner on Monday 02-15-10.  Good luck!

Love Notes Journal 020810 2
Inside Front Cover to Write Your Names and the Year

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Paper Toasting

This month’s ATC theme was “Winter”.  Almost immediately I knew I wanted to use a doily somehow on my design, as doilies most perfectly simulate snowflakes (except for the fact that unlike snowflakes, all 12 doilies in a package ARE exactly the same—remember Arnold Horshack’s poem in “Welcome Back Kotter?”)  With Valentine’s Day approaching soon, there was no problem finding doilies in the craft store.  I love the crisp white filigreed edges!  How perfect they are!  But, as we typically work in Vintage style, I wanted to make my doilies look more aged.  They were just TOO crisp and white!  I didn’t want to tea-dye them because I didn’t want them to be entirely mulled cider color.  I wanted just the edges to be aged looking.  But, that was another problem. 

For those of you familiar with scrapbooking and crafting, there’s a technique known as “antiquing” paper.  It’s also sometimes referred to as “aging”, “inking”, “edging”, and even “distressing”.  The general idea is that you take a sepia or other neutral colored ink pad to the edges of your desired image.  This makes the image look older and more “worn”.    This is the look I was aiming for with my doilies, but NO WAY was I gonna be able to get ink to all the intricate edges of my doily.  So, I referred back to a technique I developed a few months ago that I call “toasting” (you know, like toasting a marshmallow over a campfire.)

It’s very simple.  Basically all you need is a HOT heat gun.  I say this because I imagine a low-wattage heat source won’t work the same.  The one I use is a 2-temperature one by The Paper Studio I bought at Hobby Lobby with my 40% off coupon.  I use the “high” setting. 
Doily Toasting 4
All you have to do is “blow-dry” the edges of the doily and then also kind of straight down from above (to get the inner filigreed cutout edges.)  As you move your heat gun around, you will get varying colors of “aging” effects.  Toast as little or as much as you like.  It’s just like toasting a marshmallow.  Initially it takes a little patience, but once you see the golden brown goodness, you’ll be hooked!

See the difference between the “before and after” doilies?Doily Toasting 1BEFORE (unaltered)
Doily Toasting 2 AFTER (lightly toasted)
Doily Toasting 3 Isn’t the “aged” look from toasting just wonderful?!

So, with this technique in mind, I created my winter-themed ATC by implementing an antiqued doily to represent winter’s snowflakes.  The inspiration for my winter ATC was my favorite song of all-time, “The Rose”, sung by Bette Midler.   I’ve discovered that several of my ATCs reflect music lyrics.  I guess most people who know me know that I love music.  Music speaks to me more powerfully than any other medium.  It’s no wonder that when I think of my art designs, I think in the language of music (and words—my second great love).  

As someone who has always been overweight, I didn’t have but a handful of dates in high school.  Even though in college I had more guys ask me out, I still felt like it was going to take FOREVER to find my “Mr. Right”.   Many lonely Saturday nights I felt so like that barren seed buried beneath the winter’s bitter snow, awaiting the arrival of my springtime blossoming.  God was my Sun and I knew with His precious care, one day I would become the rose.  I feel so thankful that when I was 30, my Prince Charming found me and we fell deeply in love and were married. 

It’s been over 5 years now and I still remember that cold bitter winter of my life vividly.  But, those memories make me even more grateful for the Sun’s gentle love and the opportunity to finally blossom. 
Doily Toasting 7
Note:  if adding glitter, such as I did here, be sure to add it after you’ve toasted.  Otherwise, the extreme heat melts it.
ATC Envelope 1
My finished ATC rests inside this hand-crafted envelope.