27 November 2010


Zentangle motifs in fabric
Due to a bit of inconvenience (electrician rewiring areas of our house), I was freed up to make a pilgrimage to Prairie Quilt in Hennessey a week ago. I went solo this time and kept myself entertained with singing along (loudly) with my favorite CD of praise music. To compound the crime, I recorded myself via my new Android app—AndRecorder. (I haven't listened to the audio files yet and hope I can be charitable.) That said, I'm betting GweNaomi was happy to miss this trip.

I think I officially looked at ALL the fabric this time. In addition to a handful of fat quarters, I found four little quilt square kits and fabric with Zentangle Patterns! Does that make the whole trip worthwhile or WHAT!? Although the first one I found was in browns, I later found these blues in another area and they photographed better. Before checking out, I edited down my pile of fat quarters from fifteen down to ten (plus three pieces of cut goods). Oddly enough, the ones I put back were mostly ones I saw when I first came in the door. When I come away with an assortment like this, I always wonder if there is a repeating theme/pattern to my choices. What do you think?
The day's bounty included half-yard cuts of my already made purse fabric.
It felt like I was doing a little 50's-60's time traveling with Sputnik. Then I moved into this dark, bold-n-gold space. Interesting. I even contemplated if the ladies working at this store could tell lots about the personalities of the quilters who come through there, based on their fabric selections. I suspect my selections most say I am not working on a quilt at all, which is true. For now.

Baby J was born on Sunday, January 21. She's a beautiful young lady and her parents are beaming! Next up, our church family awaits the births of Lady Smith and Baby P next spring!

New life for old...
Another project I've had in mind was what to do with my old journals. I started keeping one back in 1977 and stayed with it inconsistently for more than 20 years. There comes a point where they've done what they needed to do and can be released—but how? Hmm. Hmm? Hmm! Paper-making! Several months ago I ran many pages of journals through my cross-cut paper shredder and saved the shreds in two BIG Hobby Lobby bags.

Next in the process is to use a blender to pulverize the shreds, mixed with water, into a pulp slurry. Surprisingly it wasn't gray or white, but a very neutral green which reminded me of that 'eye-ease' paper from steno book, columnar pad, and lab/engineering grid paper days.
BIG NOTE TO SELF: Hold down the lid on the blender very securely because when an unchewed wad finally hits the blade, the mass will erupt everywhere.
Did Maytag his THIS in mind?
After the pulp contains no remnants of the paper, I poured it into a plastic dishpan. In 'normal' paper-making, this is where one would stir the pulp to align the fibers and then dip their framed screen into the mixture. I didn't make any of these screens but got the bright idea to pour the pulp through one of my clothes dryer's flat drying racks. Okay, I used two of them. I let them drip dry over the sink for awhile, so the drips from the uppermost rack would not drip 'holes' into the still wet pulp below, then slid them into the dryer closet for at least 24 hours. I ran the heated cycle a couple of times then just let them air dry.
Note the screen texture on the edge.
And voilà! The finished sheets are very bumpy and have very low tear resistance. But they're writable-uponable (my made up word). Without all that water, the paper dried to be mostly white. More than paper, it reminds me of the fiberboard molded drink carriers you get at drive-throughs to carry up to four drinks. I'm going to investigate some more techniques, find out how to strengthen the paper, build a couple of small frames, and try adding color, leaves, petals, etc. Hey, I might even wind up making something with the paper—how about the cover of a gratitude journal?

More than anything, this process mirrors my own redeemed life—shredded, crushed, mixed, poured out and made anew—ready for my new story to be written. Thank you, Jesus.

16 November 2010

Placed and Paged...

First, I absolutely love this new tool I've added to my arsenal, MSC Scoring Board. Thanks to it, I've had much more success scoring card stock for different paper projects. I learned about it from a blog I visit for ideas.

Last week, a friend who hosts our ladies community group I attend asked me to make place cards for our fall dinner party this Friday night. I had great aspirations to formally hand-letter proper, pretty little cards, but one new set of markers and pages of practiced names later, I remembered script computer fonts for a time such as this. Yep, I copped out. That said, I spoke with our hostess and got an idea of her place setting/table color scheme.

I was going for a rich, layered look. One trip to Hob Lob, and I gathered supplies—foiled card stock and vellum in both gold and a dark bronze. (Oh, and that set of calligraphy markers I wound up not using this time. Used my 40% off coupon. [By the way, did you know you can show their online coupon to the cashier from your web-enabled phone to get the discount? No need to print and take in coupon.]) From 12x12 sheets of card stock, I got nine cards per sheet. I scored each 4x4 square at the two-inch mark. I printed names out on the inkjet paper onto the gold velum. The dark bronze vellum ran through my Gypsy/Cricut and cut out small circles. Then I cut notches into the folded card and inserted the dark bronze semi circles to hold each person's name, sort of like photo corners. I taped them down securely with Mavalus tape. (This stuff is great—I keep a loop of it stuck to my top kitchen cabinet door for holding recipes when I bake.) One of the benefits to hand lettering the names was I could add new names up to the last minute and they'd look like everyone else's. Oh, well. I know it's going to be a fun time with great gals! 

Zentangle Sketchbook

After the Zentangle class in October, I've been looking for 'just the right' sketchbook to collect and practice patterns. After several 'maybes,' I found a sure thing. Again, Hob Lob to the rescue. Not only is a square format, the paper inside has a nice amount of 'tooth' for sketching/inking. Additionally, there is a clear plastic pouch in the back—perfect for holding printouts of numerous Zentangle patterns for quick reference or inspiration.

Then my left brain took control of the situation. Certainly I can't be left to having all that free roaming white space—gotta rein it in, or at least keep it in tidy, manageable formats. What I need is templates—oooh, aahh... Yep, it's THAT bad. So I measured the pages; got on the computer; created several different formats based on various column widths; and printed them off on plain card stock.

Again, using my scoring board, and then trimming each to page size, I cut out each of the 'windows.' Each template is placed on a page, pencil traced within and lifted away. Tah dah—now I can color outside the lines. Yeah, right.

I've got some supplies gathered for Christmas hand-mades (secret surprises I can't share here) so am looking forward to getting started. And there's another project I need to finish NLT next Monday. My freelance client is happy and their project is getting closer to going to press—both good. Add into the mix the electricians will be here for a few days in a row to work on our wiring. Temperament, tasks and timing must adapt. Sigh.

04 November 2010

Working Backwards...

"What I did on summer/fall vacation…"
Knitted with Red Heart "Heart & Sole" Green Envy
Sock knitting:
Yesterday, after two weeks' work, I finished my first ever knitted sock. Have started its mate and anticipate an easier time of it—not so many unravels/reknits.

Zentangle drawing:
On Saturday, 30 October I took a class in the drawing technique called Zentangle. Along with a baker's dozen's worth of other girls, we learned about the process and how to draw some patterns. Here's a couple of photos from Gwen's blog. Barbara LaGree was a wonderful instructor. I enjoyed how we each came up with something unique from the same instruction. My friend Toni (now too far away in Colorado) does some fantastic doodles and might really enjoy the technique.
All's quiet as we concentrate and focus
My busy hands

Some really good news about Zentangling is that the materials used can be quite basic—a Micron 01 pen and a tile. Official tiles are 3.5" square pieces of high quality watercolor paper die-cut to imitate a deckle edge. The process is really quite simple yet can be truly glorious and grandiose in scale, if you wish. Replicate established patterns or design your own—newly created patterns, reflective of your world and unique to you. I can't wait to immerse myself in some pattern discovery and Zentangle drawing.
Anything is possible…
one stroke at a time.
From Trend Lab Versailles Black & White pattern

Gift for Baby J:
Using a valance of my friend's nursery pattern, I created a throw pillow, using the main fabric, complementing one, and some black satin ribbon trim. I particularly enjoyed transforming one item into an altogether different item. I guess today it's call 'repurposing.' The goal, to give her something completely unique that will completely match the other nursery items. There are fewer than three weeks until Miss Baby J makes her debut! Way to go Jessica and Jimmy!

Original baby-size
Crocheted Pumpkin Hats:
Miss Peacock started a craze! She saw a cute little pumpkin hat for a baby and knew she wanted one for her upcoming grand-daughter. Several of us got the pattern and started making ones for our own circumstances. My first (test/trial) was for one of my stuffed animals. (Yes, really.) The second was a larger version for myself. I had a girls' group tea party to attend in October and the only requirement was to wear a hat. And finally, I made one for a real, live baby! My former editor has a new grand-niece and now has a new grand-niece with a punkin' hat! 

More Sewing: 
In addition to resurrecting (and wanting to reproportion) an old coin purse pattern, I've been drawn back into the world of fabric/sewing. After many years' absence, I've begun browsing and shopping at Oklahoma Quiltworks again. Upon my return I discovered two fantastic poppy-theme quilts and fabrics. I've been going a little fat quarter and linear quarter-yard crazy lately. (But they are arranged so beautifully!) One Thursday afternoon, Gwen and I went to Prairie Quilt in Hennessey (via Okarche and Eischen's!). I was practically dumbstruck by all the fabric! I came away with a pattern and a project—a roomy handbag/tote. It was finished in a couple of days and I've enjoyed carrying it. 

And then there was the pincushion I just HAD to make for Gwen—a chicken like her beloved Ambrose and Alistair.

A home for a trio of typewriters
Beth Moore Esther Study:
Back together again, most of the original Over 40s Women's Bible Study group. From mid-September up and over in two more weeks, we've been having a great time of friendship, fellowship, and learning. Missing Linda, Pat, and Phyllis! And, yeah, sometimes It's Tough Being a Woman!

And from August… 
All of my typewriters found a home together on this nifty end table I picked up at a yard sale. In addition to what looks like a metal inlay, this tiered table has a very nice style. Back when I was a teen, I remember asking someone what the term 'conversation piece' meant. Oh. Well, I think it's safe to say my house is all a-chatter considering its contents.

Before I got over-involved with all this handwork, I managed to read six books in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. I'm sure there's much I've forgotten, but I am so pleased to have FINISHED so many projects! I've already got ideas/fabrics for this year's Christmas sewing. Stay tuned for more!

27 August 2010

Are YOU prepared?

A couple of weekends ago, I was checking out some thrift stores around the city. I’d seen a couple of electric typewriters at a few stores but they didn’t work properly. I finally said out loud (hmm, was it a prayer?), “I’d really like to find a good, cheap electric typewriter.” The next shop we checked, there was a candidate, but on its lid it said “NO CORD.” Dang, it’s usually difficult finding the right cord—especially for older electronics. I lifted the cover to look at the typewriter’s works, and voilà, a cord! Dude! Found an outlet to test it and it worked very well; good action; corrected well; roller/platen worked fine. Wow, and only $9.99! Well, there ya go! Thank you, Jesus!

Here’s where the story starts getting weird—that is if you don’t think buying a 25+-year-old typewriter a little strange. I started pricing replacement typewriter ribbons/correcting tapes. A couple dozen years ago, my last typewriter had identical ribbon cartridges and they were sometimes hard to find back then. What am I gonna do? Searched online. I found a few ribbon sources, but the prices were pretty steep. Then, like a good obsessed shopper, I checked eBay. Remarkably enough, there were not only ribbons, but TWO of the same model typewriter on sale. One was $200 and with a full warranty. The other was only $25 and came with MANY ink ribbons and correcting tapes. Ooohhhhh. I waited for about 48 hours until the auction’s end and made the only bid for $25. And won.

Well, I received my package. Ooh, aahhh… And even though my thrift shop and eBay typewriters both have the same model number, there are some subtle differences. Interesting. Ooh, and I’ve got ALL these supplies, too!

A friend asked what I needed with ONE, not to mention TWO typewriters. That’s a reasonable (sane) question. Uh, Tom and I can have typing contests?  I can open a typing school? Bookends? Anchors? Earrings? And now that I think of it—how  am I going to run through ONE ribbon cartridge and correcting tape, not to mention 13 ribbons and 11 tapes?!? Uh, hmmm—didn’t think this one out all the way—but, dang it, I AM prepared!!!

18 July 2010

Left without a word…

I really can’t believe she did it! It was all started, and then she LEFT!

The entity of whom I speak is not so much a person as a personae—the ultra-efficient, go-getter, revved up, cleared-all-the-brush, planted-a-garden, didn’t-need-no-stinkin’-sleep wonder woman who visited during my nine days on prednisone. Not only did the dosage (more than four times that of a standard six-day Medrol dosepak) of medication relieve my gloppy breathing, it effected a whole new way for me to behave. I was up early; hit the ground running; got so much accomplished—no nagging task was left undone; and actually had results to show for my labors and efforts. It was incredible. Sure, I ate several big meals a day but I think it all went straight to muscle. And, it may have left me a little (more) irritable. Plus there was that whole sleep deprivation thing. But I so enjoyed that sense of well-being and accomplishment. She certainly seemed to know what was going on and how to get things done—no nonsense—a tribute to efficiency!

Another downside I discovered was that she started totally reorganizing my craft/scrapbook/paper play space, and left before it was done. I’m looking around now wondering how she was going to finish or repurpose this or that space or function. The one clear direction she left was to get a chair that spins so I can easily access my supplies without throwing out a hip or shoulder. It was very kind of her to make allowances for this aging framework of mine. I found one I like very much and am sure she would approve.

I wonder if there is any chance she will visit again. She doesn’t have to stay very long, just let me in on her plan for finishing the craft area…and where she might have hidden my library card.

16 July 2010

The summer I learned to read...

That phrase makes one think of a young child pointing to and trying to sound out each word in a beginning reader book like P.D. Eastman’s Go, Dog. Go! or Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham. Or maybe that same child’s first summer reading program where for every book read, she earned another crescent-shaped sticker to add to the book worm’s body tracking the summer’s accomplishments. Yes, both of these scenarios mark my reading history.

I’ve never been a big reader. I managed to drag my limited attention span through whatever I was forced to read in school. Since then, I’ve probably read no more than a dozen fiction books since college. I’ve always admired people who read but just never got there myself. Oh, sure, I’ve pushed myself to read a few titles I promised others I’d read, but very seldom have I seen a novel I just HAD to read. Given my extensive collection of books, it’s easy to see I really enjoy non-fiction reading. Show me how to do something; tell me your life story; or give me reference material—that I love!

I am thinking more about writing these days. Something I discovered a dozen years ago is that I can write a very detailed description of something/someone, but have great difficulty getting that person or thing to advance down a story line. Hence, the reason for needing to read and see how other writers transform and transport their characters through time and space.

Last year, a dear friend gave me a paperback he’d wanted me to read for quite some time. Accepting the fact I didn’t enjoy reading (which I am sure was appalling to him), he thought I might enjoy the simple stories by Alexander McCall Smith beginning with The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. A year, and his passing, later, I finally sat down with the intention to read and finish his gift. Tah dah! Done! I can do this!

Which title next? My friend, Naomi, a voracious reader, who has read the entire series, tells me this first book was her least favorite. Hmm. Well, that’s interesting. It only gets better from here? Intriguing. I perused the titles of the following volumes and needed to decide whether to read by preference in title interest or the order in which they were written. My logical left brain won out and we’re doing it chronologically.

My husband, Tom, used to have great difficulty remembering the names of people he met. I told him if he keeps telling himself he’s bad at remembering names, he’s self-fulfilling the prophecy and will never change. He’s reminded me of this as it applies to my reading.

“I am not a reader” is no longer my personal statement because THIS is the summer I learned to read.

09 July 2010

Emergency chocolate...

Yes, there is such a thing and one must keep some stockpiled. When you need that little endorphin boost, nothing's better. And when 'enough' is as good as a feast, these little gems skim under the guilt radar.
Found at Aldi, and first a gift from my dear friend Jana, one little bar is not only half of a serving, it's also just 100 calories. The mini-bars come 11 to a package (contrary to the wish that one package = one serving, too bad) so will get you through many crises/fades.

I like these hazelnut/crisp ones, but there are other varieties.

Into every life, a little chocolate must fall. Yumm.

05 July 2010


Ah, there I was… If I just go in and get my "Need a Margarita?" shower gel, I can get out of there spending less than $20. But, no… Buy 2, get two FREE and Buy 3, get three FREE! Sigh.

I'm not altogether sure where this seduction began. From over two decades ago when I was poor, poor, poor? If I could scrape together just enough to buy a couple things, that would make me feel better, right?

For several years I've had the means to buy what I want and find myself being a downright glutton. I don't like that. When the guest bathroom was getting remodeled and I had to remove the cabinet's contents, I found I had MORE THAN A DOZEN pump soaps! Okay, NO MORE soaps!!! And did I mention I also gave away a dozen or so products from a scent I no longer wore?

I got what I went in for, plus four new fragrance sprays,  two shower gels, hand cream, and a scrubbing gel. A part of me wants to feel guilty about it. Tom sez why!? I had the money and I didn't charge it. Why not just enjoy? Good question.

04 July 2010

A special delivery...

Happy 4th of July 
from my little friend 
and me!

This little cutie needs a name.

Wonder what's going to fit best?

(Thanks Gwen!)

02 July 2010

Baby Cozies™...

I came across Baby Cozies™ yesterday and realized pictures would be more descriptive than words. In addition to these critters, they also come in flamingo, monkey, hippo, parrot, bears, lion, and more! And they are so soft and cuddly.

Bet you're already making your list of newborns and newborns-to-be. I can hardly wait to find an excuse to bring one/some home.

Out and about...

Finally had a chance for a little play time/retail therapy today. On the way to copying over some files at church, almost got T-boned by a nutty lady in an SUV who didn't look BOTH ways. There are days I wish my horn was MUCH louder! Calmed down enough to go see if a special order was in at Casey's, and correct a mis-ring.

I made it to My Heart's Fancy, visited with Maura, and came away with some Tim Hotlz stickers and papers—and an in-store class schedule! Oooh, aaah. Also have some great ideas for newborn gifts, Baby Cozies™—darling 'un-stuffed' animal lovies. If you get a chance to hold them, you'll love them too! And the last thing I saw while I was browsing really made me laugh—a ceramic sign: "Impossible you say? Nothing is impossible when you work for the circus."

My last stop on the way home was a quick run in and out of Dollar Tree. I wanted to see how many ounces of Jelly Belly jelly beans you get for a dollar, and hope that I was saving money buying bigger bags at Walgreens. Yippie—saved 2.7 cents per ounce at Walgreens. Ah, now I can enjoy them with a nearly clear conscience! Now to reduce those calories…

30 June 2010

Updating settings...

I think I've made it possible for anyone to leave comments. The settings I had in effect before prevented comments without being a Blogger member. The downside is that 'anonymous' readers can also leave comments, but because I'm not widely publicizing the blog's link, strangers won't be finding it in the first place.

I also discovered more profile information was posted than I remember posting. No doubt the sputterings of a middle age brain.

Up and running...

Hurray! I'm getting my blog up and running (named and online) before the next meeting of our People's Church Summer Activity Writing Group—a stated goal. Am sincerely hoping populating the blog will be less mind-boggling than the rudiments of pulling it together.

I suspect many of my blogging friends will be happy I have my own outlet for commentary and be less likely to fill the capacity of their comment boxes.This girl definitely needs her own easel and crayon.

My expectation is that I'll talk about my projects, brainstorms, memories, observations, and ideas. As appropriate, I'll add images and links.

Here's to good beginnings…