Sunday, May 29, 2022

Warm and Cool Redux

So I posted a pair of cards last week that explored yellow/orange versus purple color schemes, and now I'm doing it again. I still don't have a preference, but some of you did before. I imagine it's the same for you now. This stamp set from Altenew (Wildflower Garden) has such lovely flower stamps in it...perfect for the marker-and-water-spritz technique. 

The stamping mojo still isn't back yet. I shall persevere and break through the block, though. Onward!

Just keep swimming....

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Friday, May 27, 2022

Ombre Ink and a Knock Out

Today's card was inspired by THIS PIN by Harriet, an amazing stamper. She arranged the three blossoms so perfectly into a strong visual triangle on her one-layer card, and I wanted to do something similar with mine. 

The stamps are from Tim Holtz; the stems and blossoms are separate, foam-mounted rubber stamps. I used a Hero Arts ombre inkpad to ink up the blossoms and love how well that worked. It was so easy and the results so pretty! The light-and-airy feel of the outline stamps works well with the white-on-white layering, too. 

So here's a follow-up on my stamping mojo issues. BC (before COVID), my creative process usually began as it did with this inspiration from another stamper or a great design of something like towels, wallpaper, commercial cards, book covers, beer cans or wine bottles, home décor, etc. That process sometimes led me far, far away from the inspiration piece but almost always led me somewhere productive and satisfying.

Lately, however, starting with inspiration has led to more dead ends and frustration than successes like today's card. Yesterday, I decided to start with a stamp set and see what happened. Ideas flowed much more easily. In 45 minutes, I'd made two color versions of the same design, and both made me happy. I'm going to run with this idea and will share those two cards soon. Let's see if starting with the stamps leads to a more productive and satisfying process! 

My mom complains that she can't grow knock-out roses in her Maryland yard. My Ohio yard, however, has no such problem. 

The first two bushes planted in 2017.

The three bushes late last week. The two oldest
are almost as tall as I am. We dug out the old
and ugly evergreen thing and replaced it with a rose
two years ago.

Keep in mind that I am generally a plant hospice worker...I ease plants home to Jesus. The success of our knock-outs is a result of soil and climate favoring the plants, not anything I have done. But the riot of color makes me so happy!

And now, a gratuitous dog photo. Just because.

The Paw Pillow


Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Bold Blue and Commitment

Today's card was inspired by THIS GORGEOUS PIN. My version evolved over several hours and failed attempts at paper tearing and faux watercolor stamping into this crisp, bold, and high contrast version. My skills are definitely rusty, but I happily persevered and got there in the end!

The card is 7.25 x 3.5 inches.

It took a shocking length of time to find a sentiment that fit here. I wanted to make a birthday card but not one sentiment in my extensive stash worked. Which reminded me of a Murphy's Law of stamping: You will NEVER have enough sentiments. Never. Ever. 


In my last few posts, I've shared a bit of my mental health struggles over the past year or so, but now it's time to share a huge positive on the physical health front. 

Before last July, I could barely climb a flight of stairs without feeling winded. My feet hurt from plantar fasciitis, my joints hurt, and I could no longer carry a 40 pound bag of water softener salt to the basement. I was taking two different heartburn medications and still popping Tums like candy. My average resting heart rate was 72, and my blood pressure, though normal, was creeping up. I was chubby, had a very unhealthy diet, and did almost no exercise. Who am I kidding? I did NO exercise. 

I needed to eat healthier foods, get fit, and hurt less. But I had no idea how to get there.

Last July, I visited my family in Maryland. My sister had lost 45 pounds and looked amazing. She moved more easily and felt better than she had in years. That inspired me to start Noom, a weight loss app that has changed my life in some very encouraging ways. (Note: Noom is NOT sponsoring this post. I'm just sharing my experience.)

Noom taught me lifestyle changes that are permanent. You learn to customize a healthy lifestyle that you can live with forever. Diets work on deprivation, but that's not a long-term solution. Instead, Noom teaches you to exercise common sense by identifying thought distortions (like portion distortion or food "rewards") that get in the way of health. 

Here's a specific example. My son loves Cheetos. When I would see the bag, I would think, "I'll just have one handful. I deserve a handful of that orange crack!" Which would lead to two, three, four handfuls, and then I'd feel gross. Now, when I see the bag, I think, "Those make me feel gross." And I don't want them anymore. The same has happened with mochas and other high-calorie drinks. Black coffee and a Hershey's kiss satisfy much better and leave me feeling better, too!

Because I'm not giving up my three favorite things--coffee, chocolate, and wine--altogether. Let's not get crazy. Now, however, I weigh my wine so I can accurately record the calories in the app. Two ounces of wine isn't much but, sipped slowly, tastes heavenly. 

Best of all, although Noom doesn't have a guide for exercise, it does encourage movement. The more you exercise and record your workouts in the app, the higher your calorie budget for the day. I found this HIGHLY motivational! As someone whose hobbies (reading, writing, stamping) are almost entirely sedentary, getting into a regular workout routine has given me more energy, made me stronger, and reduced my pain.  

I lost 35 pounds in five months and have easily kept it off for five months. My resting heart rate went from 72 to 60. My plantar fasciitis is gone. I exercise almost every single day and feel so much stronger and more flexible. I can heft the water softener salt bags easily or squat down at the grocery store to get items off the bottom shelf and pop back up despite two bum knees thanks to Peloton yoga and my rowing machine. 

Bottom line: committing to a healthier lifestyle is one of the best ways to take care of yourself. And you'll feel better for it. 



And no, I didn't finish that whole glass of wine. I'm 55 and still teachable. 😊

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


Sunday, May 22, 2022

Towel Inspiration

Today's card took almost two hours to make and was inspired by THIS PIN of a towel that's too pretty to use. 

I puttered. I searched for things in my craft area...not surprisingly, it seems I've forgotten what I have and where everything is. I had fun anyway, and the results of the puttering made me smile!

My first effort included three lines on the bottom, just like the towel, but it looked weird on a card. I redid the stamping without the lines and was happier for it!

Now for personal stuff. If you're here just for the cards, feel free to skip the rest of this post.

A lot has happened since I posted last year. I'm taking a sabbatical from teaching for the rest of the year. Bottom line, I'm burned out and need to refresh myself. The past two years have been draining and stressful. A friend told me--accurately--that I cared more than my students did. That's not healthy or helpful for them or for me. I need a little distance and boundary-building. Thankfully, as adjunct faculty, I'm blessed to have the option of stepping away temporarily and have the full support of my department chair. 

My heart hurts for all who don't have that option, regardless of their profession.

On the plus side, I've been able to get out and see some performances in the last few months. First, a Jeremy Camp concert in Kentucky with my son Jack. I enjoyed this one much more than the first we went to because I had hot-pink earplugs. We were in the 5th row. 

For those of you who identify as Christians, you might find my breakthrough at this concert interesting. You see, I'm definitely not a conservative Christian, and what goes on at Christian rock concerts makes me a little uncomfortable. Emotionally manipulative fundraising for a children's mission and a marketing pitch from a Christian app for the first half hour made me itchy from the start. I went fully prepared to suppress eye-rolls for the sake of my son who thinks Jeremy Camp is the bee's knees. 

During one song, a man went to the stage, leaned his head on it, and started sobbing. Another man, in the front row, crossed over to him and began...well, I don't know what he was doing, but he was shouting and laying his hands on the man. Perhaps he was praying over the man, but he seemed to be talking to the man, not God. 

The Stephen Minister in me turned on. "Just shut up!" I telepathically shouted at the stranger. "Listen to him! Don't jump in and assume you know what's going on! Quit shouting at him! Listen!"

But then it occurred to me that no matter how loudly the ministering man was shouting, the other man couldn't possibly have heard a word because they were right in front of a speaker on the stage. Their insides were vibrating and ears completely overloaded. This was not a Stephen Ministry moment.

Then, the ministering man started praying. Now it was obvious. And the hurting man was praying, almost falling in his emotional state. The ministering man kept hands behind him to catch him if he fell. 

Finally, the man calmed down, stood up, and hugged his ministering stranger. He seemed so peaceful and joyful and grateful.

I'm a good Methodist who occasionally says "Amen!" in service...when the pastor asks for it. So more emotive forms of religious experience aren't part of my faith life. If I ever spoke in tongues, I'd immediately commit myself to the nearest insane asylum. But I learned a lot in this brief experience, including a little humility and respect for the Spirit moving as it will in so many different ways that I'm too limited and ignorant to understand. God is so much bigger than we want to make Him.

As you judge, so shall you be judged. Scariest verse in the Bible. I learned a lesson in it that night.

And therein concludes the sermon.  

Just last Friday, Nick and I saw Something Rotten, a musical about Shakespeare's competitor Nick Bottom. It was hysterically funny and quite well done, with the unforgettable rhyme "Don't be a p*nis, the man is a genius!" 

I think the Bard would approve.  

It's good to be able to get out to performances again, although still a bit scary. Nick and I debated putting on masks as the theater filled. We chose not to do so, but it felt...strange. I wonder how long it will take before the trauma begins to wear off and we can feel "normal" in crowds. With news of the monkey pox in recent days, I really do wonder. 

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and good health to you all,


Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Warm and Cool Colors, Old Style

First, thank you so much for the kind comments and emails I've received on my last post. I'm surprised email subscribers are still receiving the blog as Feedburner was supposed to go inactive last summer. 

Second, I started playing around with old Hero Arts (copyright 2006) wood-mounted stamps and trying to make them look fresher and more "in style"--but then I realized I have no idea what's in style and what's not. So I aimed to take old supplies and techniques and put them together in a way that felt fresh to me. 

Anyway, I used a combination of SU and Memento markers (all at least 10 years old) with a spritzing technique to achieve a watercolor effect (very old school) and then used a StampinUp textured embossing folder to create a thin vellum mat...the only sort of "new" supply used. The textured, colored cardstock has been in my stash for about 17 years...purchased when a scrapbook store went out of business. 

I really like the vellum layer with its wavy edges and texture. 

Which color combination do you prefer: the warm yellows and oranges, or the cooler purples? I love them both myself and love especially how they feel so different in mood. 

Finally, several people have commented that they miss seeing my puppy pictures, so here are a few recent ones to catch you up on our pups. 

Cooper and Lily

Cooper's smooshy wooshy face

Lily's happy face

Cooper's Cujo face. In his defense, Lily was 
biting his upper lip. I got a lucky photo.

Lily trying to be top dog. Cooper
could not care less. He's just chewing his bone
while she humps his head.

"I finally caught it!"

Cooper's give-me-a-treat face

Young man blessed with dogs.

"Please, may I have some chimkin?"

Don't let that last picture fool you. Lily is a demon. She routinely chews on poor Cooper's much so that his fur is becoming discolored on one side from the spit. But he loves her like a hen-pecked husband and can't stand when she goes anywhere without him. 

She's the same way about him. After all, whom else would she torture!?

Mercy, grace, peace, and furry love,


Saturday, May 14, 2022


So, it's been a while since I posted. Life has been rather strange and challenging for all of us for the past two years, and now, as some things are returning to "normal" (whatever the heck that means), many of us are finding ourselves anxious, depressed, confused, wrong-footed, or at the very least, out of sorts. 

While I have been spared the tragedy of losing close friends or family to COVID-19, I admit to feeling more anxious and depressed than I should. In fact, I have had several panic attacks in the past two months and found myself at the doctor's office 12 hours after the first one seeking help. The doctor was incredibly kind, patient, and helpful, and as I sat waiting for my prescription, I thanked God for the resources I have available to deal with this crisis. 

You see, I've referred about twenty students to counseling in the past two years...even walked a few over to the counseling center at the college where I work. I've filed behavior intervention reports for students whose mental health status scared me for them. At church, I've volunteered as a Stephen Minister 12 years) and Stephen Leader (8 years), connecting hurting people with people who can help them. I've taught the Crisis Theory training module to Stephen Ministry students, so I know how to assess my toolbox for the right tools to handle my personal crises, and I know how to quickly identify when I don't have the tools and need to ask for help. 

And I know how to get help. I did it. No fuss, no difficulty. If that doesn't reflect my privilege, I don't know what else could. 

Many people think, because society tells us so, that we are supposed to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and deal with things on our own, that asking for help is a sign of weakness, proof that we can't handle ourselves well. 

That's bullshit thinking, and it needs to stop.

I've been back in therapy with a cognitive behavioral specialist for over a year because sleeplessness (caused by hormones--thank you, Mother Nature) was making me feel crazy in a world already crazy from political polarization and pandemic. I'd done well, eventually got on hormone replacement therapy, and was only meeting with my therapist once every 2-3 weeks. I was about to tell her we could stop meeting when the panic attack happened. 

We're now meeting every. single. week. 

And it's helping. 

So is the prescription.

I'm putting this out there for you because we need to have public discussion of how to help ourselves and each other through these crazy times of one freaking crisis after another. We need to recognize when our toolbox needs new tools to deal with new problems and when we need training on how to use those new tools. We need to know how to ask for help and how to get it. 

We need to normalize that process of crisis management for all ages and all races and all orientations and all religions and all political parties and all genders. For all humans. Especially right now. 

If you're struggling and feel alone and lost and in need, reach out for help. Be careful. Don't reach out to just anybody; choose a sensible pastor, a Stephen Minister, a therapist, a doctor, a good and supportive friend. Someone you can trust. I'm blessed with an abundance of those types of people, and if you're not, don't let that stop you. Ask for help. Persist. 

One thing my therapist has encouraged is stamping. Being creative, making things even if nobody cares, is therapeutic. If you're reading this blog, you already have and use this tool. I've made a few cards this year, but mostly now when I sit down to create, I dither and make trash. Not even pretty trash. 

This was one of the exceptions. Inspired by Pauline's Papier, I made several cards not nearly as pretty as this one, which evolved from the others. 

The process of evolving a card design can be extremely satisfying...when my head is in the right place. When it's not, I have to look in my toolbox and see what I can do to solve the problem. In the past, reorganizing supplies has been extremely helpful. Choosing a particular technique or supply to use and just playing with it sometimes helps. 

What tools do you use when you're in a creative funk? I'd love some new ideas. 

And remember. Don't go this alone. You can't pull yourself up by your bootstraps if someone stole your boots. And there are plenty of boot-stealing crises out there right now. A lot of us are shoeless. Ask for help until you get it. 

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,