Tag Archives: creative

Letting My Inner Goddess Out

Photo by Jim Arnold

Yes, I still dress up for Halloween.  I work at a community college and can wear my costume to work.  Here I am with my friend Nicole who looks super-glamorous in a feathered witches hat.

I get ideas for costumes and I’m lucky enough to have a mom who sews.  Then I work on the little details that take it from an idea into a whole character.

This year I wore a costume from a few years back but slightly changed the concept from “Stamping Goddess”  to “Creative Goddess”. I had to explain to most people that the “stamping” was for the rubber stamping I did.  Having to explain isn’t a good characteristic for a costume.  I decided that being a “Creative Goddess” would be easier to understand.

To make it even more clear, I carried business cards. I originally made the template for these during 30 Days of Creativity  but updated them with the job title of Creative Goddess.  Each was decorated with differing stamps, washi tape, Dianne dots and other embellishments.

A long, classic tunic with a purple drape was the base of my “Creative Goddess” costume. I was calling it a toga but when I looked up toga I learned that it would be more accurate to call it a “stola”.  The purple drape or mantle is a palla.

Photo by Faby Guillen

The wreath is made from designs of leaves and ferns stamped on fabric, cut out and glued back-to-back with a wire in between and then wired together. One thin wire connects all the way around and is mostly hidden under my hair in front.  I wanted that crown-of-laurels effect.

Photo by Rem O’Donnelley

I wore some of my hand crafted jewelry and made new accessories to add to the costume this year.

I created the pins on the palla with aluminum tape and card stock using the same technique as these charms with the addition of pin backs I attached with hot glue.

I embellished my sandals with little disks made using copper tape and paper, like I used here for pumpkin pins.  Copper polish on my toes added to the look.

Stick-on crystal jewels added sparkle and color to my accessories and I wore one on my forehead – bindi bling.

Glittery eye-makeup with black eye-liner, coppery shadow and lots of mascara completed my Creative Goddess look.

It was lots of fun letting my inner Goddess out for the day but I don’t have the time or patience to adorn myself like that every day. I’m happy to say I won the costume contest at work.  Next year I’ll be one of the judges but I’ll probably still come up with some kind of costume.

Do you wear a costume for Halloween?  This is what I wore last year.

Thanks for stopping by!


Filed under Crafts

Papa’s Stone

Most of my immediate family got together a few weeks ago.  It was the first time many of us were together since my dad’s memorial service back in June.We were putting a stone on his grave.

It was an informal gathering without any ceremony.  Dogs were running around.  Fog was rolling in.

The view down the hill is of an elementary school.

A spot on the hillside a short distance away affords a beautiful view of Mt. Tam

Some of these photos are from a previous visit to the site.  The hillside has old eucalyptus trees.

We had a little picnic with bread, cheese, fruit and homemade cookies.  Some of us stood and some of us were sitting on blankets.  It is hard to imagine a family gathering without food and it was something my dad did: fed the people he loved.  Or even liked.

We also planted a few flower bulbs.  The pink amaryllis that my dad was so fond of we all know better  by their more common name: naked ladies.  The dirt was very hard with rocks and roots but we all worked to give these bulbs a chance.  It may be a few years before we see blooms but I think my dad would enjoy the flowers and love the idea of being surrounded by naked ladies.  I believe the sight of these flowers will always remind me of him.

The hillside were my dad’s ashes are buried is in the green part of a cemetery that also has a conventional area.  In the green area, cut and polished grave markers are not allowed.  Small  natural boulders can be used to mark the final resting place of your loved one.

One of my sisters collected several large rocks from a beach at Sea Ranch, the location of a family vacation home and many wonderful, relaxing visits.  I’m really not sure how she and her friends got the rocks up the path but somehow they managed it. The one that was picked weighs over 26 lbs so it was a labor of love.  It feels right to have a rock from this special place as the grave stone.

In addition, she had the wonderful idea of using dad’s signature for his name on the stone.  A piece of abalone shell was incorporated in the design.

The result is unique and creative, an appropriate marker befitting the man whose grave it rests on.

Shells and rocks that had been temporary markers now sit around the heavy stone.  We lay flowers, shook out the blankets, and walked off the hillside.

Thank you for your visit.


Filed under Life

Day 21: Bleach Pen T-Shirt

As usual with these projects, there is a certain amount of learning curve.  I’m trying a whole bunch of different things that I’ve never done before.  On the one hand, I’m pretty creative and crafty and I’ve worked with different materials so I have an idea of how something will work (or not), on the other hand, when you are doing a different project every day for 30 days, it’s easy to become overwhelmed!

This is a t-shirt that has the lyrics of a favorite song written on it with a bleach pen.  I first wrote it out in chalk.  I was inspired by this. I actually did this whole project this morning before work.  The only problem is I was using an old bleach pen and I didn’t realize the bleach had evaporated.  It had a fairly mild smell and I should have realized it wasn’t bleachy enough. So after getting the whole thing written in chalk and written over in bleach pen it didn’t work.  I got a new pen after Jazzercise and started over.

I loved the way it came out the second time around anyway, so I guess it’s just as well I decided to redo it.

I lay some plastic shopping bags into the shirt so the bleach wouldn’t go through to the back of your shirt.  Smooth out the wrinkles as best you can.

I wrote out the lyrics of one of my favorite songs on the shirt using chalk.   It was recently sung at my father’s memorial service by the Threshold Choir.

To Dream Again

By Wendy DeMos

I bow to your magic.

I fall into your grace.

I move toward a prayer.

Your fields and rivers waiting.

For the dawn the shadows breaking.

To dream again.

To dream again.

To dream.

As lovely as the lyrics are, it is the music that is so incredible.

There are pictures online of other wonderful bleach pen projects but I wanted to try this song.  I might do a peacock feather next.  I can imagine a mendhi-like design being particularly effective.  (Mendhi is the temporary skin decoration made of henna and often seen in elaborate designs on hands and feet of brides in India).

I wrote on my cotton t-shirt with chalk.  I read that the bleach from a bleach pen can spread and the chalk helps to slow the spread.

I didn’t have that issue (I’m using a gel bleach pen) but wanted to write it out first before jumping in with the bleach.  The chalk is actually a little harder to write with than the bleach pen, but it was helpful to follow once I started with the bleach pen. I also wrote out the song on paper because I’ve found when you are working slowly on a craft project  and in this case focused on getting the chalk to write on the fabric, it is helpful to have something to look at to help stay on track.

You might consider using either an old t-shirt or picking one up from a thrift store (maybe one that already has a spot or two of bleach?) because this does have the potential for wrecking a shirt.

I kept some paper towel on hand to wipe the tip of the bleach pen.  Sometimes I would get bubbles but I just kept going.

Open a window for ventilation and shake the bleach pen well.  If it doesn’t smell very bleachy, you may find, as I did, that the active ingredient has evaporated.  I got a new pen and it was fine.

Start at the top and use a steady hand.  I tried to keep writing if I was on a roll than go back and add connecting lines, dots on the i’s, etc.  Wipe the tip of the pen with your paper towel every once in awhile.

Different fabric and dye will respond differently to the bleach pen.  I was concerned about damaging the shirt but actually found it was not as bleached -out as I expected.  The bleach gel medium is a little tricky because it looks very white and bleached-out on the shirt but when you run it under cold water you learn it is just the dried or drying gel  that is so white and the words underneath aren’t that light.

After running cold water on the shirt, rinse out all the bleach, than wash.  I used gentle liquid soap that I usually use for lingerie.  I wanted to see the results so after rolling it in a towel, I used a hot iron to press (and dry) my shirt.  I actually went back and wrote over some of the words near the bottom that hadn’t had the bleach on as long as the words at the top. I let the bleach sit for about 5 minutes than rinsed it out, washed it again, wrung it, rolled it in a towel and finally ironed it dry.  The hot iron seems to enhance the bleaching effect.  You could also  throw it in the wash once you’ve rinsed out the bleach.

I’m delighted with the results.  I just wish I’d achieved them earlier this morning before work.

Last year I created Cards with Charm on Day 21.

Thank you for checking out my latest creation.  Nine days left in the 30 Days of Creativity project!


Filed under 30DOC, Crafts

Keeping Busy

Spring, in my part of the world, is a time of warming weather and rapid plant growth.  Bees buzz around beautiful, blooming flowers collecting nectar, and birds sing in the trees.

Plants send out tender green shoots and tiny leaves unfurl and seem to grow larger in hours instead of days.

In the face of all this vitality and life it is especially hard to see my dad decline.  He was diagnosed late in May of 2011. So last spring, before we had any idea what was going on, the cancer in him was growing. You can read more about it here. He has now been through a series of grueling treatments.  He was on a feeding tube that has been removed and he’s eating again.  But the illness, chemo and radiation have all taken their toll.

This life limiting illness has been terrible and it is rough watching my dad suffer. My mom has been right there with him, his partner and caregiver through every minute.  Even the five days when he had C. diff. and was in the hospital she was by his side for part of every day.  That was not a respite because he was so sick and we were so worried – anxiety is not a restful state.   It is hard seeing her suffer too.

Now he and my mom have decided to stop the treatment and he is at home under hospice care.  A scan in November showed that the cancer that started in his esophagus had spread to his lungs.  He isn’t eating very much and his strength and stamina have diminished.  He sleeps a lot. Cancer and the treatment he received have aged him.  Chemo has taken most of his hair, beard and mustache.  He has lost weight and he doesn’t look quite like himself.

Yet I’ve found that I get used to each change.  I see the wispy hair and hear the raspy voice but in spite of that I see my dad.  He is funny and ornery.  He is social and loves having his family and especially his wife close by.  We sit by his recliner in turn and visit with him and hold his hand.  We bring meals and recently most of the family gathered for a potluck Easter brunch.  Those who couldn’t make it for brunch visited within the week.

Though I’m in a choir  that sings for those on the thresholds of life, he doesn’t want me to sing for him; he wants me to make him laugh.  I save up funny stories and recount them with animated expressions and silly voices.  He likes to tease and he calls me a smart mouth but I believe he likes that I’ve learned it from him. He loves their dog, Molly, and enjoys watching her antics.

I heard someone use the term “pre-grieving” or anticipatory grief. We feel sad about what has already been lost and as we anticipate the further loss. I have two thoughts about anticipatory grief.   First, I DO feel sorrow, especially when my caring boyfriend or a friend offers a concerned ear. But most of the time I need to make some space for myself away from the sadness. I don’t mean in a stuffing-down-my-feelings way but in a putting-them-to-the side-so-I-can-function at work way.

Most importantly: my dad is still here.  I don’t want to put a lot of focus on grieving.  I want to make the most of every visit to be with my parents without adding to their anxiety or worries.

This is where the keeping busy comes in.  I do my best to maintain a regular physical exercise routine. In a good week I workout at the gym three mornings before work, attend a Jazzercise class one evening with one sister (though she goes more often) and walk every Saturday with my other sister.

Another stress-management tool is my crafting and blogging.  Sitting at my wonderful new desk and spending time creating something is a great distraction that takes my time and energy and results in something that gives me pleasure.  Making something with my hands is usually very calming and brain relaxing.  I sit focused on a project and everything else fades away…at least for an hour or two.

Even though having a loved one fighting cancer has become a lens through which I see things, I know that there is still much to celebrate.  I know my dad wants us to be happy.

Having this blog has been an outlet for me to express and share creative ideas and also to connect with friends and other creative people online.  Being able to communicate the experience of my dad’s illness here with you means I’m able to ease the burden of sadness because I’m not carrying it alone.  The love and support I receive in return is a blessing.

I saw this quote on Pinterest recently and printed a copy for my parents which is now on their fridge.  I need to print it out for myself:

Peace.  It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work.  It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. ~ Unknown

Thank you for stopping by.  Thank you for your support.


Filed under Life

Crayon Heart Valentines

Crayon Hearts

When I first saw fat crayon hearts on Pinterest I pinned them to my “I Love This” board.  I love heart-shaped things (if you haven’t noticed yet) and these colorful, chubby hearts got my attention. I finally got around to making them just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Some of you may have broken old  crayons but I had to stock up.  I mentioned my shopping trip to The East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in this post and I picked up a whole bunch of crayons there.  I used some of the crayons in this post.

I sliced the paper wrappers and peeled them off the crayons.

Update: Most of the crayons I used were Crayola, but some were other brands.  I’ve noticed that a few of the crayon hearts have places that don’t draw as well – they seem to have less pigment. I suspect it was the other crayons and I recommend sticking with Crayola or other quality crayons.

For awhile I just reveled in this wealth of crayon color.

Then I chopped them up.  I tried breaking them into pieces.  First with my fingers than in a plastic bag with a rolling pin.  But chopping worked out better.

For my molds I used heart-shaped ice cube trays from IKEA.  I sprayed them with non-stick spray.  I’ve seen Joann, Michael’s and Target all mentioned as good places to look for heart-shaped silicone molds.  The ones I used, as I mentioned, were not made for going in the oven, but they worked out fine for me.

Set the oven at 250 degrees.  Fill the molds with the bits of crayon.  I like them sorted by color family.

Set the mold on a baking sheet – I covered it with foil to guard against melted crayon.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until fully melted.  Different colors seemed to melt at different rates.

This was from a different batch…it was almost done but needed another minute or two.

Once they’re done, let them cool completely before popping them out of the molds.  They can be done in different shapes (mini muffin tins, for example) but the hearts are so darn cute!

If you want to give them as gifts they look great in small cellophane bags, tied with a bow.

I am giving them as Valentines so I decided to stick them on paint chips as a background. I used Zots clear adhesive dots (an old package – I think the label is different now), two on the back of each crayon heart, to stick the heart to a paint chip. If your hearts have a nice, flat bottom, you can probably do it with just one.

Here is a tip if you haven’t used adhesive dots before: press the item on to the adhesive dot, then peel it off the backing.  Don’t try and peel the dot off and put it on your item. It will just get gummed up on your fingers and annoy you.

I really liked the idea of the colors in the crayon and the the color names on the paint chips.  I cut the standard paint chip strips into two-color blocks.  I also found some really wide paint chips and cut those into heart shapes.

I used Sharpies to write my greeting: “Wishing you a colorful Valentine’s Day!”  For a few of them I wrote “Valentine – You color my life!

I put the  finished Valentines  into cellophane bags.

Using more paint chips, I punched hearts for tags  and stuck the tags to the to the back of each package with Valentine stickers.

Don’t you love the color names?

I signed the back of the tags since my packaging is clear and each heart tag shows through to the front of the bag.  Choosing different colors for the Valentine and for the tag made each package more colorful.



A box left from Christmas was just the right size for holding the Valentines and I had fun decorating it with stickers.

I’ve accumulated quite a bit of heart-shaped embellishments over the years and what better time to use them?

Thanks for the stopping by.


Filed under Crafts

Day 17: Friday Photos in San Francisco

Rem and I picked up celebrating his birthday month with a wonderful, relaxed meander through the North Beach neighborhoods of San Francisco.  My creation for Day 17: photos from our day.

We started with pastries at Victoria Pastry and progressed on to pizza and chicory salad for me, calamari friti and meatballs for Rem at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, with Rem picking up a chocolate truffle at Z. Cioccolato in between to keep up his strength.  We continued right on to amazing gelato at Naia Gelato (mine: tiramisu and canoli, his: chocolate mortale and canoli), a stop at Molinari Deli for fresh mozzarella, salami and bread (to eat later) and a final purchase of tri tip from Little City Selected Meats.

It was a beautiful day with interesting and beautiful sights at every turn, sunny weather, landmarks to admire and people to watch. But we weren’t finished.  We left North Beach and went to Flax art & design where creative people shop.

It is just an amazing place and delightful to visit.  I could have spent much more time and money but luckily I’d made a careful shopping list and we had limits on both our time and budget.  I stuck pretty closely to the list and enjoyed the store very much.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little visit to North Beach and Flax.  The photos were:

Thanks for stopping by!


Filed under 30DOC, Life

Day 6: Infused Oil

My creation for today: garlic, lemon, thyme and chili flakes infused in oil.  Easy, beautiful and a delicious addition to many dishes.  I’d received a bottle of infused oil for Christmas (thanks, Mirs) and following the directions on the tag I put it in the fridge.  It got forgotten lost amongst the condiment bottles but when I discovered it again I started drizzling it into salads and over vegetables.  I dipped bread in it and put a little into a warm bowl of cannellini beans.

But then it was gone and I had a pretty, little bottle.  An empty, pretty, little bottle.

I read a few recipes online and thought it would be a simple project for Day 6 of 30 Days of Creativity.  I put two long curls of lemon peel with the white pith removed, two cloves of garlic, a few stems of fresh thyme and a pinch of red pepper flakes into the  bottle.  I warmed plain canola oil in a glass measure in the microwave and poured it over the contents of the bottle. Once it was cooled down, Rem closed the lid and put it in the fridge.  That’s it!  It needs to stay in the fridge and best to use within 3 weeks to avoid any risk of nasty bacteria.

It was so easy I still had creative energy to spare, so I made a tag for the bottle.

I appreciate the visit, thanks for stopping by!


Filed under 30DOC, Cooking, Crafts