Saturday, January 31, 2015

Art Journal Pages

I think I have mentioned before that I took an online class with mixed media artist Roben Marie Smith. I am getting a lot of mileage out of the videos. This was my fouth round and these are the pages I made.

I used The Crafter's Workshop, Donna Downey and Delta stencils; spray inks by Prima, Lindy's Stamp Gang, Tattered Angels, SEI, Ranger Dylusions and Adirondack; other inks by Aladine (izink), Clearsnap (Smooch), Windsor & Newton, Dr. PH Martin's, and FW, (Daler Rowney); Golden brand acrylic paint and matte gel medium; Liquitex brand gesso. Paper is Canson mix media.

Hopefully I gave everyone credit for their parts! 😀

Friday, January 30, 2015

January Recap

The entire first month of 2015 is already over! I'd like to say I have a lot to show for it, but I have either eaten or mailed off most of the things I made, so I don't suppose I do! The new dishwasher is installed, and as usual with any new appliance or gadget it takes some getting used to.  I have still hand-washed the dishes a few times, just because there are only two of us and it seems like a waste to run that big ol' machine for a handful of dishes.  Not that I haven't done that as well, mind you... :)

We got the first of the two garden boxes reworked, rearranged, rebuilt, refilled and stocked with compostable goodies for the worms to nosh on. We were serenaded by the yappy little dogs next door during the entire procedure. They have since dug under the fence and into our yard where I noticed one marking things right and left as though he owned the place. : (

Yesterday I got the garden room all cleaned up again, although how a room we are never in gets so cluttered I haven't a clue!  I will be using one of the tables in there for a painting project next week.  I hope to finish off the living room in the next week or two.

Ornery has started working on some more bowls and plans to start on another couch table this weekend. We are whittling away at the massive to-do list and that feels really good!  Of course come warm weather, the outside projects will float to the top of the list and cry for attention, but meanwhile, the winter chores are slowly but surely being marked off.

We got a renter for 507 this week.  They paid their deposit last Friday, and have begun moving in already. I am praying they will be good renters who pay on time and maintain the house well. I am sure that is the hope of every landlord!  I can't even begin to express what a load off my mind this is!!

I have really been doing a lot of art lately... Here are a few of the artsy things I have completed this week. 

Art Journal pages for one of the traveling journals I worked in. The pages are using techniques I learned in Roben Marie Smith's Art Journal Conversion class. Lots of texture and layers--at least a lot for me!
More art journal pages for traveling journals. The little rectangles are modeling paste pressed through a stencil, then painted with shimmery ink and outlined with a black gel pen.
These next photos are pages I did in a friendship journal. We swap pages instead of sending back and forth the whole journal. The "book" is smallish, only 5"x7".

I started with a gelli-print background, then added a modeling paste flower pressed through a Donna Downey stencil.  After it was dry, I put the stencil back on the design and spritzed with SEI Tumble Tie-Dye ink. I added white (signo) gel pen dots to the tips of the petals. The words are with Rub-on letters from Heidi Swapp and Studio Calico? Can't remember for sure. Then I drizzled ink along the edge and forced it to run. There are other layers on there just from the gelliprinting process, and I added some bird washi-tape.
This is a piece of Yupo paper (made of nylon?) to which I applied alcohol ink, then dabbed it with a felt applicator to which I had added some blending fluid.  This left it with a marbled effect.  The bottle is mt washi tape, the flowers are K & Co. acetate embellishments.

This page started as a gelliprint. I added a tip-out page made of a piece of ledger paper. The rays on the left side are glass bead gel pressed through a Tim Holtz layering stencil.  Once it was dry, I added ink and distress paints to give it the mottled look. I wrote text between the lines with a gel pen. The rays on the other page were made with distress ink and embossing powder. Beneath the tip-out page I typed a Bible verse and glued it down. 

These are Artist Trading Cards (ATC's) I made using some of the pieces I had cut off the pages in the journal above. The two above were made for an Instagram swap that I completely forgot about.  That is the second time that has happened to me! Anyway, she sent me a beautiful ATC and I made these two in exchange. They seemed more simple to me, but perhaps it was just because I didn't have to do much to the backgrounds to make them into a completed project.

The next one was for a swap-bot swap for a "Use Your Supplies" swap featuring Glass Bead Gel.  I started with another piece of art journal page, then added circles of the bead gel pressed through a stencil.  Once it was dry, I added the feathers and hearts punched from more background papers.

Next is an ATC using UTEE (Ultra-thick Embossing Enamel) on punched gelli-prints. There is a row of glass bead gell marching down the left side next to some washi-tape. The UTEE is applied just like regular embossing powder, and you can use either a stamped image or (as I did here) simply cover the entire surface with embossing ink. Sprinkle the powder over the ink and heat to set. The flowers and leaves have several coats of UTEE on them. While they are still hot and melted from the previous heating, I just add more powder and heat again.  The process is messy, and I always have UTEE all over the place, but I like the look of the glossy plastic coating.

Next are some altered Rolodex cards.  The first one I had originally I made for a swap-bot swap which I then dropped out of, so I sent it to an IG swapper I do a regular monthly swap with. 

The theme for the second card was Green. It has all sorts of green goodies on it, from the gelliprint background to little punched circles of green leather. The punchinella circles are embossed onto the Monopoly game card. It was pretty hard to let this one go. : (

One of my favorite things to do is weave paper.  The 5"x7" piece below was made with 1/2" strips of four different prints. I added a tiny drop of glue to each layer so it would stay together nicely.  I was really happy with the way this turned out.

My week wouldn't be complete if I didn't make at least a couple of washi tape cards. I made these three last night.  Usually I use samples I have received in swaps, but this time I used my own tape stash except for the gray zig-zag on the bottom left card.

And last up is a set of four envelopes I created using gelliprints for a swap-bot swap.  The back of the prints showed a lot of text from the paper I was recycling, so I had to work to hide that.  I applied a few coats of gesso, then some spray inks using stencils.  If you look really hard you can still see some of the text bleed through, but you wouldn't notice it unless you looked. I was pleased with the way they turned out. Again, it was hard to send them for a swap!

The one thing I have neglected this month is my writing.  I have kept up with my correspondence, but I have hardly spent any time working on my book.  February is my month for that.  I hope to get a good amount written, and perhaps work in a few artsy days as well.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tax Time

Every year I determine I will keep my records neat and tidy all year long so when it is time to gather things to take to the accountant it won't be an onerous chore. Every year I am scrambling around in January to total receipts, locate missing invoices and print out statements--things I failed to do month by month. Will I ever be that organized?  Or does it really take that much more time in one lump than it would over the course of the year?

This way, I only have to concentrate on the task for a few hours, whereas if I had to do it every month, I would have to think about it twelve times! Hmm.  Maybe my system is better after all. :)

I like to do the chore in January, well like is a bit strong of a word... maybe prefer is better.  I clean out old papers, organize the file drawers, shred the documents that need shredding and review things like insurance and that sort of thing. It is a nice feeling when it is all done; which won't be for awhile yet!

I have made my appointment for the accountant for February 18th.  I really don't have any idea if we will get a refund this year. I seem to have lost touch with that sort of thing since we have someone else file for us. We used to do it, until we had to refile for several years to claim a deduction we had missed.

Meanwhile, I just got a text from the property manager saying they have an application for a lease on the rental house. I don't know if they will qualify, but I hope it goes through.  Thinking about taxes, reviewing bank statements and considering finances, I was all the more aware that we need to get some income coming in from it. Now.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Living with Beige Walls and Mistakes of our Youth

Yesterday my friend M came over at my request to help me figure out a way to soften the blow of the unrelenting blah, and to give me an estimate on how much she would charge to make some curtains for the living room.  I bought some fabric Saturday to cover an old rocker cushion, and decided while I was at it, I may as well figure out how to tie the room together instead of feeling like I was living in a flea market.

We quickly dispensed with the purpose of her visit, and moved into a very comfortable conversation, something I don't do a lot of with anyone other that Ornery and Elizabeth. 

M and I met during the years we homeschooled, but it wasn't until a couple of years ago we realized how much we had in common.  We both agreed that while we homeschooled because we felt like it was the right thing to do, neither of us really enjoyed the task and didn't believe we were disciplined enough to really provide a good education for our kids. Yet in the end, all our children (seven between us) turned out to be fully functioning adults and contributing members of society.  We didn't create millionaires but none are on welfare, all have managed to find a unique niche in the world, and seem to be at the very least average, but mostly above average in their fields. Considering that we have 100% success in teaching the basic skills such as reading, writing and arithmetic, I'd say we did better than our counterpart--state funded schools.

We discussed how very fervent we were with following through with our beliefs.  We were diligent in making sure our kids had every opportunity we could afford and we parented them in ways we believed to be "right." If we made choices that most Americans didn't understand, it wasn't out of rebellion on our parts, but because we truly believed they were beneficial: we even had scriptures to back up our philosophy.

Sadly, as we were discussing the current state of all our own children and many of those who homeschooled with us, we realized that what we thought were such wise choices didn't really end up being all that wise, and while our kids are all successful to an extent, very few of them are walking with the Lord or in close relationship with their parents. 

My goal was to develop skills in my children that would enable them to stand on their own without me having to prop them up, not to drive them away from a relationship with me. We taught them precepts from the Bible, but we also used much more control than was wise. This is my opinion from the back side of the experience--since hind sight is 20/20.

While I was so preoccupied with meeting standard learning practices, keeping records in case the Dept. of Human Services showed up at my door and making sure they were properly socialized, I wish I had taught them that failure wasn't fatal, and that mistakes are a part of the process not something to hide or deny. I wish I had allowed them more freedom to express opinions that differed from mine, and offered them opportunities to prove to themselves why their choices were better or worse than my ideas. I wish I had allowed the circumstances of their choices to be their teacher (when they wouldn't harm them) instead of stepping in and making decisions for them. Most of all, I wish that I had somehow communicated to them that no matter what they did or who they became, I would not ever stop loving them and would always be here for them. 

In a conversation with Elizabeth the other day we talked about what she gained from homeschooling, and whether it was a good thing to have done.  She said there were two things she absolutely would not have gained in public school that she is grateful to have gotten from our homeschooling experience:  an ingrained conviction to always tell the truth, and a strong sense of self.  I can't say that was what I set out to teach, but at least she got that much!

You may wonder what my beige walls have to do with child rearing, but there is a definite parallel.  You see, when we painted those walls it was with a specific goal in mind--to make our house appealing to the masses so we could sell our house. Once we had them all painted and we had to figure out a way to make them work for us, we realized the thing we thought was right at the time created an undesirable side effect.  Now we are having to figure out a way to be content with a choice and actions we wish we hadn't made. 

In the same way, we are having to figure out how to walk in love with children who no longer want our involvement in their lives.  My friend asked me how we could show love to children who pushed us away, wouldn't have contact with us and interpreted everything we did as criticism or interference. I have thought about that and have come to the conclusion that the only way to do it is in our hearts. 

When thoughts come up in our minds that have us doubting our parenting abilities, we should remind ourselves that we did the best we could with what we knew. When we find ourselves feeling sad that they go to others for advice instead of the ones who know and love them most, we should bless them and remember the the Holy Spirit is their guide, whether they choose to listen to Him or not! We need to love them in our hearts, always believe the best and speak into existence that which God has promised and provided. It's a tall order, to love those who don't seem to return your affection, but it's what our Father does every day.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

New Journal Project

One of my friends on Instagram has asked me to swap art with her this year with a friendship journal. We each make a cover for the other person and then send pages monthly to fill it. Here is the cover I made.
Outside back and front

Inside front and back


I started working on a page last night. I'd like to send two pages with the covers. We'll see.

We have a rather long to-do list between now and Sunday. The new dishwasher is scheduled to be installed Friday, and I need to get things ready for that. The temperatures are forecast to be in the 50's so we hope to get errands done before Saturday so we can work in the garden while it's nice.

We've been getting up really early (3:00 AM) because of Ornery's work schedule. It's been nice to get more done during the day, but by 7:00 PM I'm toast! I'm hoping we will adjust soon, and that I have more energy during the day than I have the last couple of days!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

More Craftiness

Ol' Ornery has a new blog!  He is going to be documenting various DIY projects this year, and has his first post up already.  If you'd like to see how he made my new pen storage and tool caddy, you can see it here.

Isn't that spiffy?  He used plastic downspout, cut uniformly, then glued in stacks. I put washi tape around all the ends. :)  The caddy was one I already had, but the containers I was using were not functional and they didn't match. *Gasp!*  I love this new set up.  In fact, I just want to sit and look at it all the time! Since this photo was taken, I have moved pencils into all those empty slots. Does anyone really need that many writing utensils?  Yes. Yes, I do. :)

He hasn't been the only one crafting.  I had a delightful session with my gelli-plate last week, and I forgot to post photos. So, here they are. 

About 40 prints on a recycled eBook printout, four file folders used to clean off my brayer and stencils, and two tamale bags, which I use for sending things through the mail.

I may have gone a little crazy setting up and joining swaps on Swap-Bot this week.  All the creative juices seem to be flowing and with the new schedule I have set up, I seem to be much more organized and productive in all areas of my life.  My house is cleaner, we are eating at home more, we are having a daily quiet time, and I have been keeping up with my correspondence and having time to write and do art. Of course I go to bed at 7:00 PM...  

Monday, January 12, 2015

Play Day

A couple of months ago I signed up for a class online called Art Journal Conversion by Roben Marie Smith. This was my second time through watching the videos and creating pages. I had so much fun!!

The last picture is cut down to 5x7" for a friendship journal I am sending to another artist. We will swap pages throughout the year.

It was a fun day.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


We really have not much reason to complain, but it seems the weather is a constant source of conversation, and either you're happy with it or you aren't. I am not very excited about the subzero wind chill and single digit lows today.  Hopefully it is a very temporary state, because wow. It's cold!

Since I don't have to go out, I have been accomplishing copious amounts of projects around here. Monday I went on a cleaning frenzy the likes of which haven't been seen in these parts in years! Today I tackled things on my to do list and knocked out chores and plans that have been on there since last year at this time. Yesterday I spent the whole day in the studio working on art journals and just playing with my wonderful stuff.

What I have NOT been doing is writing. Today was the first time all week I had the computer on. That needs to change. However, since I have gotten so many of those things on the backlog taken care of, there are fast becoming NO excuses! :)  Here are some pictures of a few of my latest projects.

 This is the cover of my new art journal for the next round robin swap.

Next are pages I've made for three of the journals that have already come through.

This is just a close up of the same page.

And these last items are altered Rolodex cards for a monthly swap.
Pretty colorful around these parts!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

Welcome, 2015!  I greet you with open arms, and high expectations.

It is really cold here today! We had a bit of rain, both liquid and frozen, and remarkably, there are still small patches of snow in the shaded areas around town from last weekend. We are supposed to get quite a bit more moisture tomorrow, which is good for the soil and plants, at least as long as it stays above freezing.

We had a few days this week of really feeling great about having a renter lined up for 507, but I got a call yesterday afternoon that said she backed out. At least we are having some showings.  The PM says she has someone interested and will show it tomorrow to a guy with a German Shepherd service dog; the big back yard will be a great thing for him. Here's hoping the deal goes through and he turns out to be another great renter.

Ornery has another four day weekend and we spent today doing a bit of shopping at Hobby Lobby and Whole Foods.  We have been consistent all week with our morning quiet time and every-other-day sauna sessions.  Now if I can get the rest of my routine to become habit, I will be doing great! :)  I'm almost caught back up on my correspondence, which seems to come in clumps instead of a slow, steady stream like I would wish for it to. Since I didn't send out Christmas cards or letters this year, I am replying to each one individually.  Now, in the years I send out cards, we hardly receive any, but this year we had at least 25, so letters in reply are turning out to be more time consuming than if I had gone ahead and written a form letter! Oh, well.  :)

I find it fun to communicate with people from all over the world.  I have pen pals in England, Norway, the Netherlands, Greece and several of the states. Some are just short note writers, others have truly formed a connection with me, and I love reading and replying to their letters. Some of them swap art as well as the written word, and those are extra fun!  In addition to the pen-friends, I have art friends with whom I swap artist trading cards, mail art, washi tape, and art journal pages.  They are also from all over the world; Scotland, Philippines, Australia, England and the US.

I have decided (for now, at least) to not take any new pen pals or swaps for awhile.  As some of these drop off (which they inevitably do) I may reconsider, but it is pretty time consuming to keep up with so many, and I end up not doing a lot of other things. Like blogging! :) I wonder how many people resolved to post more in 2015. I can count myself among them!