Thursday, March 15, 2018

March Madness

Today's post includes a bit of of humor . . . at my own expense. I don't mind laughing at myself, especially when so many of my readers may be fans of one of the local college basketball teams that made its way to the coveted NCAA basketball tournament. St. Bonaventure University is a small private college located in Olean, New York, which is about two hours south of here. My two stepsons and one of my daughters in law went to St. Bonaventure, or "BONA", as they affectionately refer to it. It has been a long wait for the team to get back in the tournament. Their last season to participate was in 1970. Tonight they will go up against the Florida Gators in Dallas. To say my family and their college classmates and many others in the area are excited would be an understatement. There are many fans who have taken days off from work to hop on a plane and go to the game tonight. This is a biggie! The way the tournament works is there are 64 teams and with each game, there is a winner who continues on in the tournament. and as the play progresses, there are 32, 16, 8, and 4 teams, and then finally 2 teams that compete for the championship. There are many other terms, I am sure, for each portion of the journey, but that's how I understand it. Serious stuff.

But, now, back to my story. Afterall, this is my blog! I was never a follower of basketball. When I read the newspaper, the sports section was not even opened and went straight into the recycling bin, and when the 11 o'clock news finished the weather report, off the TV went. I had no interest in sports, except attending an occasional Super Bowl party; and that was mostly just for the food! So, back in the year 2002, when I met my sports-loving-husband-to-be and later, his two sports fanatical sons, I should have known my life was about to change. It wasn't an overnight change, but a gradual one. We started dating during football season and when I visited him on Sunday afternoons, I couldn't understand why he talked during the entire game on the phone with his sons. I laughed because they would critique every play, know who should have been doing what on the field, and yelling at the coaches, players and refs. It really was quite amusing. I watched the game and he made sure I benefited from his tutelage of all things football. Then came hockey. I was horrified at the way the players slammed each other against the boards and got into fights on the ice. I learned that is all part of the game and even expected by fans! Oh, and I forgot to mention, my family loves their Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. And guess what? Now, I do too. I think I even like hockey more than football! Go figure! In fact, during our married years, we have participated in a friends and family fantasy football league. No wagering, just fun, and a lot of learning! I learned to study depth charts, look at stats, maneuver my players around on my roster when they had a bye week, and so much more. It has been a lot of fun. For those readers who are unfamiliar with this, here is a link for you to read all about it  The upshot of all this exposure is that I have definitely changed!

When the time for the NCAA basketball tournament came around in 2003, the conversation took a new turn and there was all this talk about March Madness. I guess I may have heard the term in the past . . . probably during the auto dealers' commercials on TV! It really didn't mean a thing to me. During one of the conversations, my husband and his sons were talking about the big dance. They kept mentioning it like it was some really big deal. As the tournament got underway, and March Madness was being talked about everywhere and on the news, I started to pay more attention. I didn't have a lot of choice, since if I wanted to be part of the family, I needed to be informed to some degree; and I wanted to be part of the family and part of the enthusiastic fun they were having while discussing the teams and games. When it came down to the final game, Syracuse beat Kansas in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. There are surely some of my readers who are big Syracuse fans, too!

Finally, March Madness was over and I still had one question. I innocently turned to my husband and with all seriousness, I said to him, "So, after they're all tired out from playing a basketball game, now they need to get dressed up and go to a big dance?" My husband, then boyfriend, looked at me in disbelief and asked me, "What are you talking about?" With a straight face, I said, "They kept talking about the teams going to the big dance. I'm just wondering where it will be. Is it after the game?" Lovingly, but also with laughter, he explained to me that the term The Big Dance is the whole March Madness event. So, now when March rolls around, he kids me and tells me I need to get my ball gown out so I can go to the big dance!

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog post. For all the BONA fans out there, it is time to, as they say, "Unfurl the Brown and White!" Fun times! And until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

2018 Garden Journal / Mini Album

I have had this little book finished for about a month, but I needed to get some good photos of it to post here on my blog. The task has been moving around on my TO DO list and I have finally finished! I started making it on the last day of 2017, and I have been using it for several weeks. I have removed the notes, lists, pictures, and other things I had tucked inside, but I am including everything else in the photos.

The purpose of this little book is to have a record of my gardening adventures for the year all in one place and in an orderly fashion. Last year was the first year for my perennial garden. It was a year of planning and planting . . . and learning about bugs, butterflies, rabbits, woodchucks, and deer, as well as the simple pleasures a garden can provide. I saw how fast things grew and changed and wanted to have a place to properly document those things this year. Last year I kept my records on a clipboard, but there were so many notes and receipts, that it couldn't hold them all! That's one of the reasons I made this little book. Plus, I wanted some of my many garden photos in a book where I could enjoy them, instead of hidden away on my computer's hard drive or in my phone's gallery; and I wanted to use some of the supplies in my stash! I hardly made a dent in my supplies with one little book, but it is a start. It has led me back into my studio where I have been spending time almost every day since then.

I had a master plan when we first planted the perennial garden.
As it turned out, some of my ideas changed and plants were put in other spots.
I kept all the receipts and labels from the plants on this clipboard so I could refer to them.
It is time to review them so I will know how to take care of the plants when they emerge this spring.

For the Garden Journal / Mini Album, I used Susan Winget Specialty papers, SW Meadow by DCWV, along with some embellishments that went with the line. I hate to admit how long they have been here on the shelf. They were among some of the earliest purchases I made when I started my paper crafting hobby in 2012. I found them all in the clearance section at the local JoAnn's. At the time, I wasn't aware of how little paper one needs from even just one pack of paper, no less two, to make a mini album. At the rate I am going, and with the amount of paper I have on hand, I need to live for a very long time to use up my stash. Lord, have mercy on my paper hoarding soul!

I am lucky when my husband crosses the threshold of my studio, because he doesn't try to give me unsolicited advice or lecture me about my paper stacks, which are all stored on shelves. He just looks around and says something like, "you sure have a lot of paper, Emmy." At those times, I think to myself . . . if you even knew how much there really is! When you start adding up the metals, ribbons, paints, stains, tools, dies and die cutting machines, embossing folders, and a couple of pieces of equipment that I wanted really badly, but have never used, it borders on a sickness! But, I'm pretty sure he already realizes that, and after he reads this post, it will just confirm it for him! I can make excuses all day long for why I have so much, but I do try to be easier on myself now than in the past, when I would regularly heap feelings of guilt on myself. A woman who once visited us suggested to me that if I enjoy having these things in my studio and they make me happy, I shouldn't be so hard on myself. So, I get them out from time to time and think about what I could make with them, and I do like them as much now as when I first brought them home. I just need to use them! My husband often points out to me that there are always new paper lines coming out that I will fall in love with, so I should make room for them by using what I have! He is right. It really is okay to cut the pretty papers! So, this is one small step in that direction. Hopefully, there will be more this year!

Below are photos of my 2018 Garden Journal / Mini Album, including the pages, the photo mats and the tags that are tucked inside. It was made entirely with things from my stash. The covers are constructed with chipboard and are covered with black cardstock. The book measures 5" x 7" and the spine is 3" wide. More detailed information appears under each photo. You can enlarge the photos by clicking on them, if you want a closer look.

The front cover ended up being just big enough for the title! I used chipboard letters that matched the paper.
I inked the edges of all the papers with Tim Holtz Dried Marigold Distress Ink and used a black Sharpie on the edges of the chipboard elements.

There are seven pocket pages in the book.
Each page measures 4 7/8" x  6 1/2".
I used 1 1/2" organza ribbon for the closure.

I used a Tim Holtz brad with a ring to attach the dangle charm to the spine.
The charms are a flower, a leaf, a round gear/sun, a crown and a glass rain drop.
I used a little specimen bottle to place some of the milkweed seeds and fluff that I saved from my garden last fall and attached it with a brown wire. The milkweed seeds are important to me because they attracted Monarch butterflies to the garden last summer. I used permanent black ink to stamp the numerals for the year on paper and matted it on black cardstock. It is a little hard to see, but I used three strips of 1" black velvet ribbon to attach the covers to the spine. 

Inside the front cover is a little booklet tucked under a chipboard element that I matted on black cardstock.
There are tags on the right, tucked behind another matted chipboard element.
I used a Tim Holtz "tiny attacher" stapler to attach the ribbons to the tags. It holds staples that are much smaller than the regular size found in an office stapler.
You can see the three velvet I used strips I used for the binding better in this photo.

The booklet on the left measures 3 1/2" x 5 1/4".
It has four pages and is blank inside.
It can be used for photos, memorabilia, or journaling.
The tags measure 2 1/2" x 5" and are blank on the back for journaling.
On the right is a photo mat booklet that is tucked in the pocket page.
It measures 4 1/4" x 5 3/4", and has design paper on the front and back where I can place photos.
The inside is blank for more photos or journaling.

Throughout the book, I used a stamp set for the months of the year and matted them on black cardstock.
Each month has its' own page.
January has a little pocket that holds three different sized little photo mats that are blank on the back.
February has a chipboard butterfly attached by a brad at the top, so it can swivel and the tags can be easily removed.

The three little photo mats and tags for January and February.

March has a "belly band" (a term used in paper crafting that always makes me giggle a little bit) that holds a photo mat.
There is enough space to tuck a couple of other little things behind the band, too.
Two tags are tucked behind a chipboard element on the April page.

Left to right: Photo mat booklet from the pocket page, the photo mat from behind the band, and two tags.

May and June pages are constructed in the same way as January and February.

Left to right: Photo mat booklet from the pocket page, three small photo mats, and two tags.

July and August pages are constructed the same way as March and April.

Left to right: Photo mat booklet from the pocket page, photo mat from behind the band, and two tags.

September and October pages are constructed the same way as January & February and May & June.

Left to right: Photo mat booklet from pocket page, three little photo mats, two tags.

November and December pages are constructed the same as March & April and July & August.

Left to right: Photo mat booklet from the pocket page, photo mat from the band, and two tags.

Inside the back cover: The same as inside the front cover, but opposite layout.
Two tags on the left and a little four-page booklet on the right.

Left to right: Photo mat booklet from pocket page, two tags, and little four-page booklet.

Close-up of the decorative dangle on the book's spine.

I made some little tags to tuck in here and there in the book.
This is one from January 30th when I saw a large red fox traversing the field behind our house on a snowy day.
He moved too fast to snap a photo, but this little note will always bring back that memory.
I used a white Sakura Gelly Roll pen to write on the black paper.

The book is probably the smallest size I would consider for this kind of use. I started it to keep my mind occupied while I was recuperating from surgery, so I didn't want to try to make anything too large or complicated. I like how it turned out and I think it will be fun to use. Hopefully, by the end of the year, I will have it filled with memories.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. As always, I welcome your questions and comments. By the way, I found the place where the comments have been hiding in Blogger, so I will see and reply to your comments here or on Facebook, if you prefer to comment there. :-) And until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Sunday, February 25, 2018

Love and Kindness . . . and Prayers

This is a post that shouldn't be difficult to write, but for some unknown reason, I am having trouble getting the words on the screen. Since early December, I have been housebound, recovering from surgery. When I first came home, my activities were quite limited. I wasn't supposed to lift, push, pull  . . . pretty much do next to nothing! Thankfully, I am blessed with a husband who is the best caregiver I could hope for. I really mean that. Paul took care of me and everything else, including all the things I used to do pre-surgery. He ran errands in some of the snowiest and coldest weather we've had in years, shopped for and cooked special things for me to eat, cleaned the house, finished the Christmas shopping, wrapping and mailings, helped me in and out of my chair, stayed up all night with me on many nights when I was anxious or could not get comfortable, and the list goes on. Imagine being helpless. That is pretty much how I felt for about the first four weeks when I returned home. Since my surgery, I have been out of the house about a handful of times. But, if you follow me here on my blog, you already know I am content to stay inside my nice warm home in the winter!

The highlight of my days was getting mail, and in January there was some very special mail that made its way directly to my heart. Several of the friends I have made in the quilt guild and artsy group that I am in sent handmade gifts to me. I was so touched, and am still, and forever will be. As the gifts arrived, I felt so cared about. My friends made beautiful prayer flags for me. I get very teary when I consider the time that each of them took, during what is an already busy time of year, to make something for me by hand. I know that I was being thought of and prayed for by these special friends and that just touches my heart to its' very core. Each flag reflects the maker and I can't express how special I feel to own them. I know from having been on the other side of this kind of project, what it feels like as you design and create something for a friend who needs to know how much they are thought of and cared for. I have been deeply moved during the process of making things for someone to where the feeling of prayerful meditation becomes part of the process. Those prayers are sent while making things and then again when they are received. That is what this has been like for me. I feel the prayers when I hold the flags, look at all the meaningful expression that they hold and when I look at them from across the room.

I strung the flags on a ribbon so I could look at all of them together. They are a wonderful lift when I walk into the room. We've had the snowiest and coldest winter in a long time. The nicest thing about the piles of snow outside is the light they added to the landscape. It made the rooms brighter so our moods didn't succumb to the often gray skies, and these precious prayer flags seem to light up when they are illuminated from the window.

If you would like a closer look at the photos below, you can click on them to enlarge them and see the beautiful details in each prayer flag.

My beautiful gifts strung on a ribbon to make a banner.

Made by Mary Ellen Casey

Made by Chris Kuehl

Made by Lori Anderson

Made by Tracy Jachimowicz

Made by Susan Rathbun

Made by Elaine Ross
Elaine has a blog where you can see her other work.

Made by Connie Grimsley

Made by Martha Lorshbaugh
Martha has a blog where you can see her other work.

I think you can see why I was overwhelmed by love and kindness . . . and prayers. These prayer flags are cherished gifts that have made the days I have spent at home recovering from surgery brighter.

Thank you for stopping by to read my blog today. As always, your questions and comments are welcome. It is my hope that you and those you love are safe, happy, and healthy. And until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Be Mine!

It is Valentines Day! As I mentioned in a previous post, my mother made a pretty big deal out of Valentines Day when I was a little girl. Even on a school night, we had a special supper with red Jell-O in heart-shaped molds and a heart-shaped layer cake with pink frosting for dessert. I still like to carry on her tradition and make the day special at our house, too.

Not fans of going out to dinner on Valentines Day, although the TV ads for restaurants are very enticing, my husband and I opt to stay home and celebrate in our own small ways. A pretty card, a funny note left on the fridge, watching a favorite movie together, and a home-cooked meal are more interesting to us than going to a crowded restaurant. And as much as we like Hallmark cards and the Hallmark Channel, my husband always laughs and says he doesn't need Hallmark to tell him that it is time to let his wife know that he loves her! I am a lucky girl because he lets me know I am special and loved in a thousand ways all throughout the year.

When I was able to get back into my studio in January, I decided to actually be ahead of the game for once, and made a Valentines Day banner for our dining room. Instead of a card this year, Paul gets a banner that he can look at when he is having his morning coffee. I wasn't sure how fancy I wanted to make it, but I had a little box of supplies just for the occasion; so I dug around in it and pulled out what I thought would make a cute banner. I kept it simple. I am fully aware of how I can get carried away sometimes and make things rather fancy and involved; but the goal was to get it finished ahead of time and hold it for the special day, not to embellish it until every inch of it was covered in lace and roses!  ;-)

I snuck downstairs early this morning to hang the banner across the mantle and now I am waiting for Paul to descend the stairs. I tend to get excited like a little kid on Christmas morning when I have something like this to unveil. I'm pretty sure he will be able to tell when he notices my excitement about the day, my sense of urgency for him to get downstairs for his morning coffee, and my boisterous mood thanks to a lot of caffeine; so it shouldn't be too long a wait until he sees the it! In the meanwhile, I will have more coffee, pick out a movie for later and plan a nice home-cooked meal.
♡♡♡ Be Mine Banner  ♡♡♡
I hope you and those you love are enjoying this romantic holiday. It can be as elaborate or as low-key as you want to make it. Have fun and make some memories. When all is said and done, the memories we make are what are most important. ♡

Thank you for stopping by to read my blog post today. As always, your questions and comments are welcome. And until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Monday, February 12, 2018

Getting My Art On . . .

It is time for me to get my art on. I say this because I want to learn new things,  and use many of the materials I have accumulated. And what better time is there than now, when I am still pretty much staying home and only venturing out when absolutely necessary. Between the winter weather and the threat of the flu, I am perfectly happy to stay home and take up residence in my studio.

After reorganizing my work table to provide more surface area for work, I set out to use my new watercolor paper. I didn't know what size I would need, so I picked up an 11" x 15" tablet. It might be a little big, but I can always cut a paper down to a smaller size, should I decide to.

Another trip to the hardware . . . and a shoe shelf that my husband assembled for me.
It helps to get the clutter up and out of the way so I have some surface area to use.
There is an issue with clutter on the right side of my table, but I will deal with that later!

On Sunday afternoon, with Valentines Day on the horizon, I decided to work on a multi media piece that had a little romantic theme. I quickly pulled a few pieces of ephemera from my stash, pulled out some paper that I found last week in my miscellaneous papers that looked like it could pull off a bit of romance, and a few paints, inks and rubber stamps. I wasn't sure if I should use gesso on the paper first, but I did. I like to use gesso because:
1. It makes me feel like an artist. and . . .
2. I like to say the word "gesso". It sounds so . . . artsy! ;-)
Gesso was one of the first things I learned about when I started to do paper crafting. The artists I watched on YouTube were all referring to it, so I researched it and went to Michaels and got the biggest bottle of it they had. I like to use it because it gives surfaces some "tooth" for paint and other things to adhere to. Now, don't I sound like I know what I am talking about? Its all because of gesso!

Trying not to think too hard about the piece I was about to make, I taped the paper down to my work surface and started to place bits of that found paper on it.

Torn paper.
Its a start!

Pleased with the placement,  I removed it and painted with a mixture of a few paints and a bit of the gesso that was left on my palette. I liked the color and after it dried, I glued the papers down with Mod Podge did some stamping. I added a couple paper doilies to the page.

Some paint, some stamping, some ephemera and a couple doilies, but it lacked something.

I thought there was too much blank space, so I added free-form painted hearts. I added too many, but I left them there and hoped they would grow on me. They didn't.

So . . . I thought I would add a few free-form painted hearts to it.
Hmmmm. . . .

I decided to cut some paper hearts from some scraps I had in a bin, and didn't worry too much about color or pattern. Once they were glued to the page, I liked it better. But I wasn't finished. From a distance, the piece just faded and the hearts couldn't be seen. I got my glitter glue out and painted them and that helped. I am happy with my first experiment and I plan to journal a little bit on the back. I will probably make more of these and keep them in a portfolio, but for now the plan is to put this one in a frame and hang it in my studio.

The photo is a little dark, but I think I managed to salvage the piece with some hearts and an old standby . . . glitter glue!

I continued on my art journey this morning. I really didn't have a plan, but realized in order to paint, I needed to learn to draw. So, I went searching around in YouTube to find some videos about sketching and drawing. I watched a few and pulled out a sheet of drawing paper. I began to sketch a tree that I look at every day right outside my studio window. It was actually fun. I think I will put my sketch in my portfolio. Now, doesn't just saying that I even own a portfolio make it sound like I really am an artist?

The maple tree right outside my studio window.

My drawing of the maple tree outside my studio window.

This pursuit gives me a lot of joy. I hope you are enjoying learning new things . . . or renewing a former hobby or interest. It is never too late to learn something new.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by and read my blog. As always, your questions and comments are welcome. And until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Feeling Sentimental

It just washed over me. The sentimental gush of emotions from faint memories of my childhood. Not that I am totally surprised, since I am a rather sentimental soul. It began when I decided to look through the boxes I keep stacked on a shelf in my studio that hold a lot of things that I received from other crafters in online swaps, along with things I have made for challenges or just because I wanted to try a technique, or . . . whatever. As I peered into the boxes and went deeper into the layers of altered tags and Altoid tins, handmade cards, button fairies and decorated boxes, my memories of Valentines Days of my childhood carried me deeper into my heart. I must have stopped for quite a while. I don't actually recall. But I found myself daydreaming about 2nd grade and my one of my favorite teachers, Mrs. Adams. She was so nice. I thought she was very cool, too. She was young and pretty and sometimes she wore what looked like white majorette boots. It is funny what we remember about a person. She made learning fun. When it was getting close to Valentines Day, she asked us to each bring a shoe box, with a slot cut in the top, to school. She showed us how to cut out paper hearts, gave us red streamers and paper lace doilies, big sheets of newsprint paper, construction paper, crayons and paste. We decorated our shoe boxes for the big event . . . the card exchange.

At home, as the day approached, my father set me up at a card table in the living room, along with a mimeographed list that Mrs. Adams sent home from school, so I could get my little Valentines ready to take to school on February 14th. The cards were adorable. We bought them at the 5 & 10. They came in a cellophane pack and a thin cardboard tray that was so flimsy, it couldn't really hold them. I poured them out on the table and sorted them, making sure the one marked "teacher" was put aside for Mrs. Adams. The prettiest ones would be for my little girlfriends and I made sure I didn't give any mushy ones to the boys who used to try to kiss me in the cloakroom. Ick! Equipped with a pencil, I printed my name on the back of each card and then went down through the list and addressed each little envelope. I'm pretty sure there was some parental supervision, but I don't recall. As an 8-year old, I'm sure I didn't have it all together, even if I thought I did!

On Valentines Day, the classroom was decorated in red and white and there were treats, as I recall. Mrs. Adams, or more likely a classmate's mother, provided frosted cupcakes or cookies and there may have been a few conversation hearts in a dish, too. When it was time to exchange our little cards, we delivered them to the decorated shoe boxes on each classmate's desk and slid them into the little slot in the top. At the end of the school day, we took our decorated boxes, filled with cards, home. It was fun to open them and giggle over the cute little scenes on the cards. Some even had glitter on them!

My father and mother seemed to really enjoy Valentines Day. I'm not sure why, but perhaps because they came from a generation that was raised by Victorian parents. The Victorians elevated the holiday to a new high with lace, sentimental postcards, candy and romance. My father bought a big red lace-decorated heart-shaped box of chocolates for my mother . . . that I ate more than my fair share of; and my mother often made a heart-shaped layer cake with pink frosting and red Jell-O in little heart-shaped aluminum molds. It was very festive for a school night!

With a smile on my lips and a blank stare across the room, I snapped out of it and focused on those boxes of handmade things. I was actually rather surprised at what I discovered inside. Since I started paper crafting in 2012, I have accumulated more pretty little "makes" than I thought I had. In fact, after being inspired by watching several craft room reveals on YouTube over the past few weeks, I decided that these gems shouldn't be cooped up and stashed away in boxes. I have drooled long enough over other people's creative spaces. It is time for me to step up my game and make my studio a place that inspires me and reflects my creative journey. By doing so, I hope to stop devaluing the time and effort I expend when I create things. Let me think on that. That's fodder for a future post. But first, I will decorate our living room mantle for Valentines Day and make a plan to start redecorating my studio in a few weeks.
The mantle is the perfect spot to display the special finds from my studio.

PLEASE NOTE: I don't know why there is such a big gap beneath this photo.
When I tried to fix it, it grew even bigger!
Please scroll down.
Thank you!

From Left to Right:
A multi-fold Valentine I made a few years ago, an altered Altoid tin made by Gretchen Lont, an ATC (Artist's Trading Card) from Margaret Sallee leans on a explosion Valentine box I made a few years ago. A beautiful button fairy, one of a pair, made by Traci Savely, sits atop a pink gift box I made.

Altered Tags
From Left to Right:
"What's Love Got To Do With It?"  made for a challenge.
" O O O la la love" made for a challenge.
"Valentine Clown" made by Traci Savely.
"Be my Valentine" made by me just for fun.
"Red and Black Valentine" made by Yolanda Taylor.
"Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder" made to try a couple new techniques.

Left to Right:
Lace-covered book page pocket with pearl trim made by Tiffany Heggs Morrow.
Heart-shaped box painted, but not trimmed yet!
Handmade cube with designer paper (made by me).
Button fairy, second of a pair, made by Traci Savely.
Gift card made by Linda Kuniyoshi.
Chunky Mini Album made by me.
Altered shoe figurine made by Amber Cade.
Stick Pins by various makers, including me.
Tent-style Valentine I made a few years ago.

With Valentines Day a week away, there's bound to be another Valentine post. But, in the mean while, I thank you for taking the time to read my blog. As always, your questions and comments are welcome.

And, until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Thursday, January 25, 2018

To journal or not to journal?

Journals. I love to make them, I love to watch YouTube videos of other people making them. I love paper, fabric, trims, ephemera, any and all materials that can be used, and the whole creative process that goes into making journals. So why, then, haven't I used a journal? What is a journal, really? Is it a diary, a record of events, a planner, a place to store dreams? I write elaborate TO DO lists daily, but I throw them out when they are so crossed out and scribbled on that I can't make sense of what I wrote on them in the first place. Those lists would be the closest thing I have that would chronicle my days, but I don't keep them.

As I recently celebrated a milestone birthday,  I was moved to think back . . . which I seem to do more often lately . . . and I found myself wondering where did my fleeting memories come from? When was that particular event that just came to me from out of the blue?  What evoked the memory? Today I have been daydreaming and recalling the past.

The sound of the blade of the snowplow scraping the pavement on the street jolts me away from my dreamy thoughts and I lose track of the faint memory I was enjoying and look down at the blank page on my legal pad with only the heading "To Do" and today's date written  in large cursive letters and numbers. Yes, I have such important TO DO lists that they require a legal pad! Ha, ha!

So, will today be the day I start to journal? Why? Why not? Actually, I just remembered that I did journal once. I was quite faithful about it, too. If you read my blog post,, you saw the cubby holes I was cleaning out in my studio. Well, one of the finds inside one of the cubbies was a handful of little handmade pages for a journal. Those pages were from my first foray into the world of paper crafting. As I pulled them out, I was transported back to 2012. I inhaled and a long emotional breath escaped from deep inside my chest. I remembered vividly how enraptured I was back then when I discovered YouTube videos by crafters who made show and tell or tutorial videos. It was February and that has always been a good month for me to be creative. I'm usually inside because of the snow and cold and find myself sewing and knitting . . . and since then . . . papercrafting.
Before I knew much about papercrafting, I made these little pages.
Words like chipboard, cardstock, photo mats, pop dots, and pocket pages were all foreign to me.
I found a list I had written with definitions of terms I needed to learn.
My love of pretty paper was finally finding a creative outlet.
I pulled those pages back out this morning and realized I never used them because the original little journal I made had gotten pretty fat; and I just never made new covers to start a second one where I could add the extra pages and continue my journaling. But that is so me. I had learned the process, but not the lesson. Shaking my head and feeling somewhat disappointed in myself, I reached over to my little gallery shelf, where I display things I've made, and picked up my first papercrafting project. It was what people call a junk journal, which is simply an unplanned and random collection of stuff that represents you, your thoughts, events in your life, dreams, and really whatever you want to incorporate into it. I had only a few supplies back then, such as pretty papers, ribbons, rubber stamps, ink and some decorative paper punches and as I learned techniques, I would make a page and I would write about things. Thoughts, events, challenges, successes, dreams. Hmmmmm. Guess what?  I was journaling!
February 2012
My first little journal . . . a junk journal . . . a name I still really don't like.
My life isn't junk and my work isn't either!.

A view from above.
I copied ideas from photos and videos I found online.
It was fun and being an amateur was quite freeing, as I think back on the experience.
I just dove in and made stuff using the supplies I had on hand.

A couple of my favorite pages.
The envelope holds a tag with memories written on it.
The dress form, buttons, and the word "sew" represent my interest in sewing and making clothes.

I had absolutely no idea how to make a binding.
I came up with a creative use of ribbons and embroidery floss.
It worked and I still love it.
It makes me smile.
 Since I got married, almost 14 years ago, my life has changed dramatically from my single days. There's a lot more to recall now because each day involves not just myself but also my husband. Each day, week, month, year, and now years, is filled with memory making. In fact, recently when recalling something we'd done together, I remarked to my husband that I wish I had kept better records. I wished I had documented things that we'd done together. Not just the big things, but the little things . . . the things that get lost in my memory banks.

I truly think that I misunderstood the whole purpose of journaling. I believe that I thought I had to write deep meaningful and imaginative essays in a journal. I guess I figured I wasn't up to the task, and that what I had to write wouldn't be interesting. I think in the back of my mind I imagined that the kind of journal worth writing would be the kind that one distant day, my descendants would discover in a trunk in the attic. It would be tied up with beautiful ribbons and smell like old paper and ink and reveal deep inspiring thoughts that would cause them to weep. Oh my glory! This is true. This is the reason I have not journaled! This is the lesson.

To top it off, I recalled how much I have enjoyed reading my parents' diaries. The stuff they wrote about was not poetic, nor did they reveal tightly held secrets on those pages. Their diaries told about their days, just like what I did in my first little junk journal. My father was more inclined to write about his work as a farmer. He recorded the purchase of tractors, combines, the sale of 20-ton loads of hay, and the funny daily entry all winter long that simply stated "graded pot", which was his abbreviation for potatoes. My mother wrote more from an emotional standpoint, but still nothing secretive. She recorded what time she got up, where she went, who she visited and where she stayed for weeks at a time to help out an ailing friend or relative . . . and it seems she was always going somewhere . . . that she stayed up until 4 a.m. playing cards and went out for rides cross-lots in the horse-drawn cutter when there was a lot of snow. That is what she wrote before she got married. After she was married she wrote less frequently, but one of my favorites is when she recorded that she had put the water in the reservoir on the cast iron cook stove in the summer kitchen to heat it up for the next day's laundry. :-) Their lives look different to me now when I can get a little glimpse into their days. They didn't write in their diaries for me, though. They wrote in them for themselves and left them behind when they passed away.

So, what shall I do? I have today. This day. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Today. I will journal. I won't just make pretty journals as gifts or to display on my gallery shelf, I will use them. I'll write in them, stuff them with unrelated things. Things that mean something to me, such as my messy To Do lists, receipts from a big purchase or a trip, a recipe, a photo of us doing something together, a funny little story. These journals will be mine. They will be for me. And I will enjoy looking back a year from now, five years from now and enjoy the memories. And, should my descendants discover them one day, they might weep or laugh or just smile as they read the pages.
The mini album / journal that I started about 3 weeks ago is finished!
I put it aside for a couple weeks, but then I was inspired to finish it this week because I did not want it to be forgotten while I jumped into another project. I made myself use only materials I had on hand, much like my first journal. I will start using it right away to record my 2018 gardening journey.
I tried some new-to-me techniques on this project.
I added the little brad with the ring on it to the binding and made a dangle charm in a garden-theme.
I included a little bottle filled with milkweed seeds and fluff from last year's garden.
I plan to make a short YouTube video to show the details of this project.
Stay tuned! 

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. As always, your questions and comments are welcome. And, until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.