Monday, January 1, 2018

New Years Blessings

Hi, Crafty Friends,

I have to get dressed for work, so this will be short and sweet. Sweet because that is my wish for you and all your dear ones - sweet relationships with yourself and others, peace, beauty, well-being and creativity that uplifts your spirit and spreads joy to all.

Also, I am asking for warmer weather. It's -1 degrees just now, up from -7 when we got up this first day of 2018. We are not in North Dakota, Alaska or Wisconsin. Cold like this is rare in Kansas City. On the Gratitude side, my house is warm and toasty. I just gave Ollie a New Year's bath and am now heading to work with two delicious meals packed for myself. Yay, God! 

It is going to be a good year. I affirm the same for you!

I leave you with two photos: my card club group at our holiday dinner - Artistry ETC is the name. Join us any last Thursday of the month at Ink, Paper, Rubber in Overland Park, KS. The card is my most recent creation, made with great love for a dear friend recovering from surgery and facing extensive chemotherapy and radiation. How dare I complain about the cold, right.

Blessings and blue skies,


Monday, December 25, 2017

The Joy of Giving

Merry Christmas, crafty friends:

It took me a while; but finally I got in the Christmas spirit this year. It generally takes me a while. I ease in to it; like getting into a swimming pool, I resist, inch by inch, until finally finding my motivation, I take the plunge. 

The last three years I flew back east to have Christmas with my family. Oh, the tumult and hullabaloo--the good kind, yes, but expensive and exhausting. By the time I got home last vacation, I needed a vacation! The year before, my car skidded on black ice as I left the airport. I got home by tow truck at 2:00 am. The two blown front tires and rims cost me another $500.

I realized in September there wouldn't be enough PTO to go to Santa Fe in November AND New Jersey at Christmas. All indicators said: stay home, put up your tree, save your energy, stay quiet, stay home this year. And so I did. 

Here I am, Christmas Day, feeling a little both ways. There's the knowing I did good extending cheer to people I love. But without being there, it's hard to feel a part of their excitement. Christmas isn't just for children. For sure, one of my joys is seeing them get in to it, tracking Santa on Christmas Eve and then opening presents in the morning. Not being there this year, I miss out all that. On the other hand, there's no chaos this year. It feels odd, unlike Christmas without the frenetic energy. Then there's the compulsive shopping I do. Past years, I made myself crazy shopping after I got to NJ. Listen, the shopping in Kansas City can't hold a candle to New Jersey. Plus, there's no tax on clothes or shoes there. It's irresistible! 

Is it easier to shop here and ship things early? Hmmm. I spent a lot less doing things ahead of time. Should I be doing that even if I fly there? Do people actually do that? The truth is I have no shut-off valve to stop me buying for the kids when I still have time. Even from a distance, I sent extra presents at the last minute (God bless Priority Mail) including a pop-up gift card holder for the girls! They told me this morning, they loved the card as much as the present--$$ to spend at the Lush store. How gratifying is that!

With the presents sent, I felt pretty good about myself for a couple of days. There were more cards and tags to make, a Secret Santa thing at work to gear up for and the annual holiday gathering with my work team. We usually do a White Elephant exchange at a restaurant. But this year I knew I wasn't traveling and needed an excuse to clean the house, so I invited everyone over, adding Chanukah to our celebration. The house smelled like onions and oil for days after! 

But what about Christmas? Getting the tree up finally felt good. Still, thinking about not being with my family for the holiday left me feeling sad and a little empty. I forgot how I don't like being completely alone on holidays. So, I decided not to let that happen. I went looking for my joy. For me that means the joy I get in giving and seeing people happy in receiving. 

What did I do? I went shopping for food presents and planning who was going to get what. No, not cookies. Sugar is not my body's friend. Everyone makes cookies. I made puff pastry! And the real giving--creations of love--began: apple tart and curried chicken salad for church Sunday morning, shrimp ring for Christmas Eve's "Lessons and Carols" service Sunday afternoon (and another for my neighbor's Christmas Eve), a glazed ham and my famous corn custard pudding for my co-workers at Silent Unity on Christmas Day and Chinese cabbage and bacon for me! (I could order out Chinese food, but I like my own just as well. Plus, this is Kansas City, not New York or New Jersey. The 'good' Chinese food means driving to Overland Park, KS; I am not leaving my house again today, no way no how.

So why take food to my co-workers?  Even though I got off today and tomorrow, many of my co-workers weren't so lucky. Silent Unity never closes. It's a joy to cook for them and make their holiday a little special, just as it is a joy to bring deliciousness to fellowship at church and to my neighbors who do so much for me. 

All is well in my world now. People are happy with their goodies and my kitchen is clean. I even washed the floor for good measure. I'm warm and cozy in my big hooded sweatshirt and warmest leggings, with two movies waiting for me and not one reason to leave the house until tomorrow.

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope Santa brought you some awesome art supplies (or at least some gift cards). Tomorrow is sale day at my favorite stamp stores! The joy just keeps coming!

May the joy of the Divine spirit alive in the world--your Christ nature--be reborn in you today and all year long!
Blessings and blue skies,

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Karma of Cardmaking

Hello, Crafty Friends:

"Tell yourself the truth sooner," a friend reminded me long ago. Case in point, my commitment to blogging. Guess I do not have one. What I do have is a desire to connect with like-minded people in the world to say "me too!" Is it grandstanding to want to share something beautiful you created? Maybe. If it is ego, I say it is the good kind, the pride of achievement. Digging a little deeper, there has to be some measure of exhibitionist in anyone who ever wrote a blog or got up in front of people to share a thing or idea. We are not supposed to hide our light under a bushel. What would be the point if indeed we are One? Hmmm... would Jesus have a blog? Heck, if the medium is the message, he'd probably have a cable show, a podcast and be on Facebook live! Haha. 

But back to stamping and card making ... I am a busy girl with two jobs and a house full of people coming in two days for a holiday party. I need to be cleaning and getting dressed for the noon prayer service. Instead I am writing. Ugh. Procrastination! Anything to avoid cleaning the house, aka putting away my art supplies in order to reclaim the dining room table. 

While procrastinating (checking my email and enjoying Jennifer McGuire's latest video on Crafty Things), I realized I had not posted my own creations in forever.  We established I am worthless as a blogger. But I still want anyone who cares to know I am a real cardmaker/crafter. I try to keep photos of the cards I make. Too often, however, I am in a huge hurry to get the darn thing to the post office. Half the time I forget--doy! Oh well. Sometimes you have to be happy with a personal knowing that you did good, made a card someone will receive and that they, if no one else, will know you care. Every act is karmic. Never doubt that. 

Speaking of karma, have you come across people who do not appreciate your cards? Thankfully, they are few. Of course, they can't help it. They know not what they do. But once I discern someone not to be card-worthy they are simply will not get another. The exception is my son. I am convinced one day he will appreciate my cards. I call that Faith. 

It was good to see my old blog still here waiting for posts. Below are some cards I did instead of blogging. More to come, so keep watching this space.

Have a wonderful winter season, whatever holiday you celebrate! Chanukah sameach! Merry Christmas! Happy Kwanza! Festivus for the rest of us! Most of all, enjoy making cards for what and whom you love. LOL, we can talk about sending them or not next time.

Blessings and blue skies, 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Hello, stamping friends!

I'm back! Yes, back to what I love doing the most--stamping, watercoloring and making cards for people who are important to me. It was lovely to visit family and friends back east. Before that, I had a slew of pressing issues keeping me from my craft supplies. No excuses. The truth is I work in spurts of creativity and then go empty for a while.

The full moon is in Pisces tomorrow, which I’m told will bring a new burst of energy and inspiration. Bring it on! I love the fall and welcome the change in weather and all that comes with it. 

Caveat: I am NOT big on Halloween. While I totally respect others’  love  love, love of Halloween and do some of their best work for it, it’s just not my thing. I will push myself to do three Halloween cards--one for each grandchild--and then move on to MY favorite holiday… Thanksgiving!

You might find some new cards here later today. I’m working on a condolence card and two thank you cards that I hope to have in the mail tomorrow morning. 

Ahhh, it’s good to back!

Blessings and blue skies,

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Stamp Show Miracles and Madness

 30 Day Coloring Challenge

What is more fun than a stamp show? We don’t get many here in Kansas City. So when a show comes as near as 3 hours away, I’m in! With my good stamping buddy, Claudia, we hit the road at 6:00 pm after her all-day watercolor class on Saturday. I don’t mind driving at night. It was a joy to get out of Dodge for our little obsession. 

Half way to Collinsville, IL we stopped for a great, inexpensive dinner (thank you, Yelp!) and gas. Except that I forgot to get the gas after a friend called just as we got back in the car. I yakked for 20 minutes before noticing we were soon going to run out of gas. 

I’m from New Jersey; what do I know about long, rural stretches of highway without an open gas station on a Saturday night? When I told Claudia we could be in trouble, her response was, “I’ll start praying.” Soon after that, she saw a sign for a Sinclair station at the next exit.

I pulled off at the very dark Danville, MO exit, hoping the station was open. When it wasn’t, I dug out my AAA card and prepared to call when another vehicle arrived. We watched to see what the guy in the truck would do when he saw the station was closed. But he had a key, opened the door and went in! We were saved! Red was not only helpful, but charming. Thank you, Red. You were a true angel.  

But you want to hear about the Collinsville, IL show. It was just right--not too small to be disappointing and not too big to manage in one afternoon. 

I made a short video of my stash. You’ll have to wait while I work on getting it uploaded. All this technology is overwhelming. How to edit the video and get it on to the blog? When I figure it out, I’ll let you know.

What did I get at the show? Mostly stuff I’ve been waiting for: a 12 pack of zig watercolor markers, some sweet sentiments stamps from Crackerbox, a filagree die from Our Daily Bread, my first PanPastels (great price on 8 of my choice and half price on the holder and applicators!), two Nuvo crystal liquid drop bottles, a fine line applicator tip for my multi medium matte, and the big splurge (drum roll, please) new additions to my collection of Stamps by Judith and the lacquer dimensional paint tubes I’ve been looking at since I started this crazy hobby ten years ago. The price has come down since then. Plus, now I know more about what I’m going to use and what I’m not. 

Claudia and I closed the show on Sunday at 4 without winning any door prizes. One day. What’s important is we had a fun time and got some new toys. I also learned about new techniques, got some great ideas, did a few free 'make and takes’ and got us home safe and sound. Winning!!

So why would going to a stamp show be ‘madness?’ It’s not the show--it’s the crazy energy anticipating it. Once I’m inside, there’s a money-spending madness. I tend to go overboard buying things I don’t ever see at Michaels, Hobby Lobby or Joanne. What's so bad? I don’t fly airplanes anymore. A day of golf would cost more. I don’t drink or do drugs or shop for shoes or expensive clothes, eat in fancy restaurants or go to rock concerts. Any hobby would require my time, talent and treasure. Stamping too. On the plus side: it is a creative endeavor, keeps me out of the stores AND makes me so happy! From what I can tell, I am not alone. Crafters unite! Stop feeling guilty about paying for your fun. Whose voice is that in your head anyway? Time to let it go! 

Did I forget about the Coloring Challenge? No way! This morning I got back to the fun and finished the watercolor, shaker card for my friend Joe’s 55th birthday on Saturday. I even mailed it out. Go me! 

If anyone has suggestions on how to take good photography of my cards (including videos), I’d appreciate hearing back. Till then, happy crafting!

Blessings and blue skies,

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Day 2

I’m still at it. Haven’t quit trying to figure out the technology required to be a modern hobbyist. But oy vey. Getting Instagram--the real app and NOT one of the thousands of ‘get follower’ apps that came up--was a headache I did not need today. Breathe. Relax. Watch the attitude, Lesley.   

To my credit, I DID get the the photo uploaded to Instagram. Yay! You can find me there as lesleyblueskies. Or is that #lesleyblueskies ? What’s a hashtag anyway? Will I ever figure out the social media thing? 

For my next trick, I’m going to attempt to link this blog to the Daily Marker blog. Wish me luck!

About this card: The watercolors are Kuretaki Gansai in layers of blues and green with Picket Fence Distress Paint flicked on for the stars. I used Strathmore yellow watercolor paper but do not remember when or where I picked up the ballerina stamp. The finished card will have sequins, but I wanted to get the coloring posted for the challenge. 

You might notice that I goofed embossing the ballerina. It’s a beautiful rubber stamp, with stars all through her silhouette. Because I grabbed the clear embossing powder instead of the white, I decided to Versamark over it a second time with the opaque white, but did not get the clean image I wanted. Oh well. Next time. It was fun anyway. The box of clear powder is now labeled. Progress, not perfection. 

What did go well: rigging up a light box to take the photo. A good day!

Blessings and blue skies,

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Day 1

Talk about climbing the learning curve! Praise God, I figured out how to upload a photo from my iPad. 

Here's the card I did yesterday.  Mostly I've been consumed with learning how to watercolor these days. And I'm in butterfly mode. What can be better than the two together!

Blessings and blue skies,