Cards with Friends

Blue Butterflies

In January I got together with some friends from grade school and made Valentine’s.  We had such a great time together that we’ve made it into a regular event, calling it “Craft & Flash.”  Our last get-together was about a month ago.  Ladies: we need to schedule our next gathering.

Washi Tape

I was making a stack of birthday cards and recycling old greeting cards, maps and calendars in the process, inspired by crafting while on vacation.

Pink Butterfly card

I’d saved a pretty card with rows of different colored butterflies on a glittery green background.  I’ve had it for a few years and recycled it into new cards.

An old calendar from Paper Source provided artwork for a bird card.  I love the artwork on my wall all year long – they’re beautiful calendars and beautiful resources for crafting cards.

Blue Jay

Carefully cutting out the Blue Jay and adding a little glitter plus stamping a greeting on the inside and the card was done.

My friend Shook gave me some pretty place cards she’d bought and never used. I’m delighted to be the recipient when someone gives me something they think I might use in my crafting.  The cards add a nice detail when stamped with a message and glued inside the card.

Placecard recycle

For this one I used a scrap of the glittery green birthday card and some washi tape.  Another benefit of crafting with friends is expanded your supplies.  Everyone was generous and happy to share their goodies.

We had a variety of projects happening around the table. Creativity was flowing and I enjoyed seeing projects old and new.

Embroidery

Bees

Besides the production of birthday cards, an Art Journal was being expanded, tags and beautiful wrappings were being created for a series of birthday gifts, jewelry was being crafted and chocolate was being consumed.

Chocolate

All the best crafting events include chocolate.

As usual, the table was in creative chaos.

Craft Table

Or was that just my mess?

Glitter was spilled.

Glitter and glue pen

I got to try this ballpoint glue pen from Martha Stewart.  I will pick a few up next time I’m at Michael’s.  It is very fine, great for glitter and other detail work.  Like Dianne Dots.

The last time I was at Craft Gym at Once Around in Mill Valley, my  friend Margaret gave me the gift of a little shopping spree. Amongst the goodies I came home with was a package of cute paper embellishments. This butterfly is from that package.

Butterfly with Glitter

More glitter and an adhesive jewel, a few stamped flowers and paper from both an old textbook and an old bus schedule complete this card.

I’ve made a few of these cards with an old map and a bicycle stamp, but for this one I got a bicycle cutout from another of the Craft and Flash ladies.  I spent awhile coloring it. I love this card!

Bicycle Map Balloons

We crafted and chatted and laughed and ate.  It was lovely.

The dogs were happy sitting in the sunshine.

Dogs in the sun

Phoenicia made delicious chili, another great dish without a recipe.  If I recall correctly, it had beef, pork and sausage, and it was full of different veggies.  Write it down, Phoenicia!

Craft and Flash Chili

One last card I did that afternoon was from a 5-minute collage I’d made. A little extra embellishment and another card done.

Purple Collage Card

Sitting and chatting with my friends while crafting is the best therapy in the world for me.

It has been a very tough month since then with my brother spending more time in the hospital then out.  He was in ICU but is back in the regular ward and we expect him to be discharged in the next few days.  He has started dialysis and faces a host of challenges. The support and love we have all shared and received has helped make a really difficult situation survivable.

At first, spending long, anxious hours with other family members at the the hospital, I was too worried and upset to focus on anything more than mindless games on the computer.  Long days and nights of interrupted sleep meant I missed getting to the gym and I didn’t have the energy or inspiration to craft.

With some improvement in his condition, I’m returning to some of the things that have been on hold.  A trip to the library and new reading material I’m finally able to absorb.  I was able to spend time cooking together with Rem who has been a rock, taking good care of me.  And yes, pulling out the craft supplies and crafting.  I’m finishing up some cute cards and will share them soon.

Thank you for being here.

 

 

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Weekly Walk

Rodeo Beach

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my sister Kathleen and I take a walk together every Saturday.  I bring my mom’s dog Molly along and Kathleen has her dog, Ruby.  Since Ruby is almost 15 years old we have been going more slowly and Kathleen has a “pup pack” to carry Ruby when she tires out.

The weather was clear and fairly warm, and Kathleen suggested a beach walk.  This is actually a hike that starts by Rodeo Beach in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and loops up into the hills overlooking the beach.

Overlooking Rodeo Beach

With our brother so ill, the last month has been very stressful.  I’m spending a lot of time at the hospital and this was a lovely respite.

Poppies

I’ve always found salt air to be very restorative.  The views and the wildflowers were beautiful.

Poppies and sour grass

California Golden Poppies and what I always knew as sour grass, but I think is more properly called Yellow Woodsorrel, cover the hillside.

As we walked up the trail, we saw a group of people taking part in a Search and Rescue exercise.

Search and Rescue Exercise

The woman in the blue hard hat on the lower left was rapeling down a cliff.  We learned she was to playing the part of the victim who would be “rescued.”

This is the view looking down from the rocks she was climbing.

little cove

I don’t think I would be a very good volunteer for this exercise!  This team was going to climb down after her and carry her back up in the basket.

Search and Resuce training

We continued up the trail towards Battery Townsley, a World War II concrete gun emplacement, overlooking the San Francisco Bay.  You can see the edge of the battery just above this rocky hillside.

Rocky hillside and Battery

I thought of Beau because he is a real WWII geek.  He would say he is a “military historian” but it’s all the same to me.  In fact, I wrote part of this post while at the hospital and asked Beau about Battery Townsley.  He started rattling off facts and figures about the size of the guns, the fact that they were only shot in practice, that it was a casemate (I had to look it up: a fortified gun emplacement or armored structure from which guns are fired), that volunteers were working to restore the battery to it’s 1940′s condition, etc.

Here’s the view looking towards the beach.  The hills in the background are in San Francisco.

View down towards beach

You can see the Search and Rescue exercise was still going on.

View of Search and Rescue truck

We saw Morning Glories, Blue Eyed Grass and Silver Bush Lupine.

Morning Glory

Blue Eyed Grass

Silver Bush Lupine

Ruby got slower and slower as we went up the hill, so Kathleen let her ride until we headed back downhill.  Molly was full of energy and enjoyed every minute of the walk.

Ruby and Molly

As we followed the loop around, we caught a glimpse of one of the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge.

GG Bridge Tower

Lacy white Cow Parsnip was surrounded by Horsetail Ferns.

Cow Parsnip and Horsetail Fern

The combination of exercise, conversation, salt air, beautiful views and wildflowers all worked together to nourish me and help me feel in better shape to face the days and weeks ahead.  I know I need to take care of myself and this was one way to do that.

butterfly

Thank you for your visit.

 

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You Just Don’t Know

California Poppies

You just don’t know who might be suffering around you. You can’t always tell at a glance or even at hello.

Your colleague may be coping with an aging parent,  your neighbor could have just lost his job and the checker at the grocery store may not be able to keep up the payments on her home.

Until about three years ago, when my dad was diagnosed with cancer, my life had been relatively smooth sailing.  I’ve had to cope with illness and injury in loved ones, and I navigated the sad waters of a failed marriage. But compared to the burdens some people have, I’ve gotten off pretty easy.

More Poppies

Sadly, my younger brother, Beau, is critically ill and over the last month has spent more days in the hospital than not. In the last  week his already tenuous condition has turned even worse and the family has been circling around.

My mom said, when you don’t know what to do, you just show up.  She thought it was from Anne Lamott so I looked it up:

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.

And it is hard work.  Just being there is tough, seeing the suffering, feeling hopeless, but trying to hold on to shreds of hope in the data from the medical staff or in the actions of a caring, skilled lab tech.  Showing up isn’t defined as being right there either.  Showing up means taking care of a load of laundry because the washer broke.  Or getting the dogs outside or baking some cookies or making a pot of spaghetti.

When I’m at work, I can stay busy for a few hours in the morning.  Distracting myself with email and phone messages and other tasks works for awhile, but I lose my focus and get antsy.  At night (it is currently 3:19 AM) when I can’t turn off my brain, and in the hospital waiting room, mindless games on the laptop, iPad or Kindle are sometimes the best I can manage.

Poppy Close Up

I guess I’m just trying to remind myself that all around me, even if I’m not aware of it, many of us are coping with some quiet heartache.

The best I can offer as a response is to suggest we all try and find love and compassion for those whose paths cross ours.  We should try and treat ourselves and each other tenderly; with empathy, respect and patience.

Update: A friend shared on Facebook that her husband had a friend tell him “When in doubt, choose the loving thing to do.” Exactly.

I’m grateful for the love, support and prayers offered on behalf of my brother, his family and friends.

Thank you.

 

 

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Spring Wreath

Spring Wreath

Once again I’ve been doing some curating and reorganizing of my craft supplies.  Things that made it through previous clean-ups but have remained untouched since, needed to be pulled from drawers and redistributed.  Stuff that I “might use someday” needed to make room for the stuff I’m using now!

I haven’t completed the project, but I did give away a bin of stuff I wasn’t using to a friend who volunteers doing art projects with kids. Little-used stamp sets went to friends who are grade school teachers who will use them in their classrooms.  It feels great to give things to someone who will use and enjoy them.

I’m constantly acquiring supplies.  Either I go to paper or art supply stores, or a craft class and pick up some of this and some of that for the project we’re doing in class or I’m working on something specific and need just the right (fill in the blank: fabric, glitter, paint, etc.).  Once the project is over, I’m left with pom poms or pipe cleaners or the end of a pack of paper in a color or design I don’t really like.

However, cleaning and re-organizing aren’t the same as crafting.  I needed to set aside that job and make something!

I unearthed colorful cotton and felt fabric left over from a fun Christmas project.   I created a bunch of flowers out of felt.  I made a template and used chalk to trace the shape onto different colors of felt.  This was very similar to making the Felt Shamrock Garland I just made for St. Patrick’s Day.

Pink Flower

I used some small pieces of felt to make flower centers.    Some green felt made leaves and stems, and buttons finished off each flower  I stuck the pieces together with Aileen’s tacky glue, a Tombow adhesive tape runner, and sticky glue dots.  The Tombow proved to be more frustrating than helpful.

Buttons

My original plan was to hang this on the door like the St. Patrick’s Day garland.  But shamrocks made out of felt look the same on either side and the flowers didn’t. So, borrowing another idea from another recent holiday door decor project, I bent a wire coat hanger into a circle, then used strips of printed green cotton fabric to wrap the flower garland onto the wire hanger!

Green Fabric with buttons

I knotted the fabric at the top of the coat hanger, right under the hook then wrapped a few times around the wire before wrapping on either side of the flower garland.  In between each flower, I would wrap the wire.  When I got to the end of a fabric strip, I would just tie a knot to attach the next strip.

Knotted fabric on back

This is the back of the wreath and you can see the knot is hidden by the flowers.

I made this in steps over a few evenings and didn’t spend that much time on it.  I wanted something cheerful on the door and this was a fun little project.

Thank you for stopping by.

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Happy Spring!

Plum Blossoms

I pulled myself away from my desk to walk around the campus and enjoy the first day of spring.

My office

Iris

Little purple flower

Pink Flowers

Rooftop Meadow

This meadow of wildflowers in on the roof garden of the Fine Art building.

Blue flowers

Strawberry Plant

Our building has a roof garden too but it isn’t doing as well.  There are some flowers but less color and greenery.

Bee in Rosemary Blossom

A huge patch of rosemary is in bloom and it’s buzzing with bees.

Pink Toesies & Green Grass

I’m very grateful it is warm enough to be wearing sandals.

Pearls

I tried to think “Spring” when I got dressed this morning: pale pink embellished sweater, aqua print top, freshwater pearls.

It was hard getting back to work, so I decided to give you a little tour of the inside of my office.

Perpetual Calendar

Calendar #1 is on my desk. A gift from my friend, Nicole, I think of her every morning when I change the day and date.

Paper Source Calendar

Calendar #2 is on the wall behind me.  It is from Paper Source and has wonderful artwork plus templates on the back of each month to recycle it into folders, cards and gift boxes when you finish using as a calendar.

Bird Tile Art

My friend Shook gave me this picture.  It goes beautifully with the perpetual calendar.  I love the color scheme, the bird and the collage-like layers.

The bulletin board

Special notes and cards from special people around me.  A feather that reminds me of my dad.

View out my window

One more peek at the view (looking out to the “orbit court”) before getting back to work.

Thank you for your visit.

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Everyone’s Irish on March 17

Shamrock's

Shamrock’s at Muir Woods.

Here’s a little round-up of some of my previous green-themed posts.  It includes links to recipes – just click on the underlined headings.

Rem and I had our St. Patrick’s day dinner a little early over at my mom’s, and enjoyed a sodium-nitrate-free corned beef from Whole Foods.  Happily I have enough leftovers so I could leave some for mom and still have some for tomorrow night’s dinner.

This is a a post about Roasted Root Vegetables which is how I did the vegetables we had this year.  The corned beef and cabbage cooked in the slow cooker.

Root Vegetables

These two salads are both green and both delicious: Baked Feta with Greens and Avocado

Baked Feta with Greens & Avocado

And Emerald City Salad with nutritionally dense kale and chard, brown rice, fennel, apple and craisins.

Emerald City Salad

A pre-spring hike in early March 3 years ago was the source of some pretty green pictures.

Ferns

This last post includes a recipe of Irish Soda Bread, a redhead, and a lovely blessing.

Irish Soda Bread

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

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Felt Shamrock Garland

Shamrock Garland

My friend, Margaret, and I went to the free craft night or “Craft Gym” on Tuesday at Once Around in Mill Valley and made this simple but sweet Felt Shamrock Garland. We were having a night out together to celebrate my birthday and went out for dinner first then crafting.

Not only did we enjoy dinner at Harmony in Strawberry Village, (try the delicious Fragrant Fried Calamari in a light batter, finished with cilantro, lemongrass, mild jalapeno, garlic and fresh lime), but we spent a relaxed evening with a nice group of women.  To top it off, Margaret let me have all the shamrocks she cut out.  Nice, huh?

Four Shamrocks

This post at A Subtle Revelry has this super simple felt shamrock garland. Even if you’re not interested in decorating for St. Patrick’s day, you should check out A Subtle Revelry and “the art of merrymaking everyday.”

Craft Gym has become a favorite night out for me and it isn’t only, as you might expect, because of the crafting.  The real pleasure is sitting in a circle with your hands busy and enjoying easy conversations around the table.  It is, I imagine, similar to a quilting circle.  I find it both relaxing and invigorating at the same time, and feel great after a craft workout.

Lauren Dyer is the creative and patient instructor for Craft Gym and she researches and presents the projects.  I’d seen this easy garland on Pinterest (of course) but hadn’t been motivated to make one.  But I’ve found the whole experience of Craft Gym is worth it whatever the project.

Lauren makes it easy, the crafts are simple ones that can be completed in a few hours which is very satisfying, and the shop is always a pleasure to visit and browse.  Although the store is closed during the evening, if you come to Craft Gym you can purchase what you need and if you find other things you want to buy, well, you can do that too!

Bright green shamrock

I encourage you to spend some time crafting with a friend or two or five if you can.  I spend hours and hours crafting alone and there is much that I love about it. But there is great enjoyment in the combination of making something with your hands with someone else who is doing the same thing.

It’s not too late to cut out some felt shamrocks and connect them together for St. Patrick’s Day.  Next fall I plan to make a similar garland using autumn leaf shapes and rich orange reds and golden yellows.  A spring garland of flowers would also be nice.

3 green piles of shamrocks

My garland has 18 shamrocks and they are about 3.75 inches wide by 4.25 inches long but folks were cutting out all different sizes.  If you are lucky enough to have a die cutting gadget and a shamrock template, you can make a bunch of them in no time.  But cutting them by hand isn’t difficult, especially with good, sharp scissors.

Simply trace a shamrock shape onto felt and cut it out. You can sketch a shamrock or look online for a template to trace.  I found one here at Spoonful.com, but there are plenty to choose from.  TIP: Angle the end of the stem and make it a bit wide, as in the photos.  This will help when you are attaching the shamrocks to each other.

Fold a shamrock in half and snip a small slit in the center leaf, just large enough that you can push the end of the stem through.  Go ahead and cut slits in all the shamrocks.

Cutting slit in felt

Now attach them together by putting the stem of one shamrock behind another shamrock where the slit is and pushing the end of the stem through the slit.

Attaching shamrocks together

Some of my stems were a little narrow or the slashes on the shamrocks were a bit wide so a few stems slipped out.  I reinforced the whole garland with a little adhesive.  I used a tape runner which was a little tricky sometimes to get the adhesive to stick to the felt, but I got it to work.  You don’t really need this if you cut carefully.  Someone in the workshop said she was going to put a few stitches in hers where the stem threatened to slip out.  The texture of the felt seems to help keep shamrocks attached to each other.

To display my little swag on the door, I used two push pins up near the top of the door plus some fishing line.

Fishing line holds garland

Garland Close Up

I also cut out one four-leaf clover for luck to include in my garland. We can all use some good luck and this week I would certainly welcome a bushel of it.

4 leaf clover

Do you know what the leaves on a four-leaf clover are supposed to represent? It isn’t the same as in the song.  But according to Wikipedia, the leaves represent faith, hope, love and luck.  I learned that five-leaf clovers are considered even luckier than four-leaf clovers (being more rare) but the record for leaves on a clover is 56.

Wishing you a happy and lucky St. Patrick’s Day.  Thanks for the visit.

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