Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Do I have Enough Life?

I am completely enamored with Project Life. I want to do it desperately but the same question keeps on plaguing me.

Do I have enough life for Project Life?

Let's be honest...
  • I don't take a lot of photos.

  • I don't leave my house unless absolutely necessary which would mean a lot of pictures of bookstores, coffee shops, work, one beastly kitty and yours truly. Not so interesting.

  • It's just me and the aforementioned beastly kitty. I feel like Project Life is for families and happening singletons like Kelly Purkey.

  • I lead a small life, with some excitement sprinkled about, and that's okay for me. It's the way I prefer it. I just don't know if it's enough.
And then...

I started on my sister's baby shower album. At first I had visions of a cool mini book with mixed media techniques and altered greeting cards and then I got a grip. First of all, that's not my style at all. Second, I don't have an effing clue about how to make an altered greeting card album. Next, I wouldn't dare try anything new on a project for someone else.....

Or would I?

I decided after a little bit of soul searching that a mini album is not in the cards right now. My mojo isn't going that strong. Plus I want my sister to be able to tell her family's story without resorting to having me do all the crafting. No one can tell her story like she can. While I was able to convert her to the world of card making, I have my doubts about converting her to scrapbooking. Enter We R Memory Keepers. I bought two sets of page protectors and started creating a photo album scrapbook. I've really enjoyed myself so far and something has clicked in me. I hope the same will happen for her.

  • I need to start taking more pictures.

  • I need to start telling my story using any pieces of my life around.

  • I need to let go of how things should be and start putting myself on the page - no matter the size or number of pockets.

So...I'm going to get my sis started on telling her story and then start carving out this new way of scrapbooking for myself. I feel the first twinges of excitement. It's nice to have that feeling again. I thought it was lost to me. So that's it for now. I'll try and keep you posted on my sister's album. Here's hoping everyone is having a lovely Tuesday. Until then....

BTW: For links to the original images pleas click on the photos.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Big, Big Plans

I'm getting out of the house.  I know it might not seem like a big deal - but really it's a huge thing for me.  I'm an introvert, a wallflower, an observer - I get most of my energy from being in 888 square feet most every day.  The summers are a real challenge since my natural inclination lures me to comfortable spaces, my house, the bookstore, the local coffee shop, etc.  The movie theater use to be on this list of comfy spaces that felt a little like home - but that hasn't been true for a long time.  So - it's a big deal, for me.

I'm going to see this movie today after three months.  I have no idea what I've been waiting for...

Source Image
...and after I'm done with all that alleged greatness (and hotness I might add) I'm off to get a Salvadoran classic for lunch and then join my many (fictional boyfriends) at the showing of this movie...

Source Image
Better get a move on...I have every intention of smuggling petit vanilla scones and breezing in with coffee.  We'll see.  I hope everyone has a lovely Monday.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Baby Shower Thank You Cards

Hello friends!!!  I finally have something crafty to report.  I wanted to share the cards from the June 10 on the 10th post where I tackled the issue of planning and finishing a big project.  I was focused on how to keep things fresh and interesting while getting 50 cards completed.

Now that I'm firmly on the other side of this large crafty commitment, I can breathe a sigh of fresh air and talk about it without turning to blue language or tears.  So without further ado...

As many of you might remember, the momma-to-be was active in the paper decision making and color scheme.  This is an important part of the process.  I definitely felt inspired by the scheme and ended up having more freedom than anticipated in terms of accent colors, design, etc.

This is by far the favored card of the bunch.  My sister (momma-to-be or preggers depending on the day and my mood) loved this card.  She especially loved the paper-pieced shopping bags.  I had planned on doing that on every card - but that flew out the window after the first 10.  I think the Spectrum Noir markers held up well and I like the coloring on this particular card.  The design is a direct copy (or card lift) from the ever-talented Jodi Collins.  You can find her original card here.  I love her style so much.

Next up, is this beauty,

I really loved making this card.  It's another card lift from Jodi Collins.  Find the original here.  I think it's one of my favorites because the amount of layering.  Notice how I've stopped paper piecing at this time and the juiciness of the Spectrum Noir markers is getting the better of me on the leggings.  I'm trying not to sweat those things - even now.

The following card is a simplified version of the one above.  I had grand plans to liven this one up a little more but it didn't happen.  I also planned on paper piecing the bags, another thing that didn't happen.  Insert sigh here.

Next up, is another Jodi Collins inspired card.  Have I said I love her work enough yet?  Find the original here.  I really love what SHE did with the card.  I think my interpretation is really lacking.

Frankly, there is too much pattern going on here.  I never thought I'd utter the words.  There is no where for the eye to rest - a really big problem in design.  I should have considered that more.  Also notice how I've stopped the intricate blending on the images.  This was one of the last designs and my arthritic hand was screaming for mercy.

The next card was inspired by this sketch from Retro Sketches.

Retro Sketches: Original Source

This was my favorite paper.  I didn't have a lot of it and I was just SURE I was going to rock these out.  I thought the heavens were going to open and sing at this finished card.  Guess what?  I hate the end result.  Sometimes life is just like that.  I wanted to tear them up - but a girl's got to get here order done.

And finally last but not least is this little dear...

I almost kept this one.  It was in the height of my blending phase and I was playing with sky colors.  I loved the end result even if the shading around the girl is a little purple for my taste.  This card was inspired by one of the earliest sketches on the Mojo Monday blog.  You can find the original here.  I really love the finished product on this one....

So that's it for now.  I'll be back in a few days with a list of things I learned from this project.  I have big plans with Starbucks and my local book store today.  Going to do some reading and try to resist buying any of the lovely books.  Hope everyone has a great Saturday.  Until then...

Friday, July 27, 2012

My Life in Mail Order

If anyone has gotten whiplash from the sudden change in posting topics on my blog, please hang in there with me.  I'm trying a new attitude.  I want to continue to tell my stories however I can - and paper and glue just isn't working for me right now.  This little place is working at the moment so I'm giving it a try.  I'm hoping some of my story will be interesting (above all) to some readers and possibly even helpful.  So here it goes...

My Sunday "Bundle" of Meds
  • I hate mail order pharmacies. 
  • I hate being forced to change providers.  I don't care how many carefully worded, kind letters I receive in the mail.  If i wanted mail order I would have switched already.  So eff off.
  • I hate how hard it is to get everything changed over to my particular mail order pharmacy.  
  • If forced to change, I will start a protest which will really only hurt myself since I will be the one without medications.
  • I want to be able to do what the hell I want to do when I want to do it.  I need my meds now and I want to be able to call my local pharmacy and pick them up.  I don't care how easy anyone says it is going to be - it's not that damn easy.
  • Let's face it - if it's going to go wrong - it's most likely going to go wrong with yours truly so please let me keep on doing my thing and move the eff on.
  • Living with a chronic illness is hard enough.  I'm on a lot of meds and I don't want to play phone tag with any company when there use to be an easier, faster way.  
  • The only thing I want mail order is magazine subscriptions and books and even those are slowly going digital thanks to my friend Phoebe - my first generation iPad.  I'd rather try a mail order husband than pharmacy.  Yes, I said it.

And when none of that works and my friends, family, and doctors have heard my consistent bitching for almost a year and reminded me I've the one with higher blood pressure, pain, etc not the mail order pharmacy,  I'll get on it for about two days and hope for the best.  Don't be surprised if I'm pissed again in about 72 hours.  Mama needs her meds.  Hope everyone is having a happy Friday.  Until then...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

There's a Hole in the Marketplace!

I was sitting in my room killing time before my dentist appointment this morning and started thinking about my lack of desire to cook for just one person and a very finicky cat who only approves of Iams Digestive Health cat food, french fries and petit vanilla bean scones from Starbucks. However, she does see fit to put her ASS in your food (including cupcakes) if it's in "her" way. Iams does all the cooking for her. They might be supplying a home for her if she puts her nether regions near one of my raspberry truffle cupcakes again. I digress. Anyway...I started looking for cookbooks and blogs and found a list of 30 blogs for cooking singletons but only a few cookbooks. I immediately thought there's a hole here.

What a delight to see a hole in the marketplace, right? An opportunity to be innovative with my ideas and "talents" and bring something new into the world. I mean there's gotta be plenty of people struggling with cooking for one and growing tired of eating like a college student in their thirties. Not to mention all of the people out there eating cereal for dinner. And then it dawned on me...I don't have ideas or talents in this area. I don't like to cook and would rather have dental work than eat a pan full of effing leftovers. So I wrote this post hoping someone with the skills, desire, and talent would stumble upon this post and say...damn, there is a hole in the marketplace and jump on it ASAP. Please someone out there take the leap...I can only eat Lucky Charms for dinner for so long.

While we're still on the subject of holes in the marketplace...I thought I might add the need for resources on mixed media card making. Someone needs to blow that topic wide open. I think it's definitely ripe for the taking. Again, will someone please get on that?

Clearly the novocaine has altered my brain chemistry temporarily because I'm all over the place here. Long story short...

  • I want a book on cooking for one that's easy, affordable, and flavorful. Hold the unlimited heaps of leftovers. There's no space for that in these parts.

  • I want more books on mixed media card making, scrapbooking, and paper crafting in general. It would also be helpful if this resource offered a never ending supply of confidence and innovative ideas. I would also like it to give me the power to love everything I create.

  • Better yet, I want food to materialize in my home along with perfect mixed media projects and the will to live at my every effing whim.

Basically I want the effing holy grail. But for those of you that were wondering...there are some serious holes in the marketplace. So that's it for this girl on Wednesday. Just a lot of words and no crafty news or products to report. For those of you in the same situation, keep your head up. I hope everyone is having a lovely day. I'm off to the market for some more Lucky Charms. Until then....

P.S. Double arm pump for my most random post ever.

Monday, July 23, 2012

I Feel A Breakthrough Coming....

Updated on August 6, 2012: I removed this post for a few days after reading this article.  I was quite disappointed by the news - and removed the post immediately.  However, after taking a few days to think about it - I think it needs to stay.  It meant something to me at the time and it still does despite the controversy surrounding it's publishing.  The book is no longer available - but this is still part of my story.  So...I've returned it to the blog with the complete understanding of the questions surrounding the book's accuracy.  I say all this just to say it's a part of my story and it's the story that matters.

I'm sitting in my local Starbucks looking over my highlights and notes from the book Imagine by Jonah Lehrer. I feel so literary and productive sitting on my iPad writing this post. Frankly its a good thing I'm feeling slightly up because I can't decide if I've been temporarily paralyzed or am in the process of one of the greatest personal creative breakthroughs yet.

As you might remember, I read the above book for a podcast and loved it. With my dwindling creative energy, I decided to take a second look at this book before beating my head against the wall hoping for some creative insight. I found this quote.

"Before we can find the answer - before we probably even know the question - we must be immersed in disappointment, convinced that a solution is beyond our reach. We need to have wrestled with the problem and lost (Lehrer, page 6 - Kindle)."

Holy cow was this an eye opener. I am in this stage right now in so many areas of my life. This has been the point where I've always given up in the past. It's the point where I've let in the "nots" and called it quits. No one talks about this part of the process! No one says you feel like you're at the gates of hell before the light appears. No one talks about the suck fest that is the down cycle of creativity - life in general. It reminds me of that moment on "Friends" when Monica and Chandler realize relationships don't last if you give up after every fight.

These thirty seven words gave me hope. So a big thank you to Mr. Jonah Lehrer and the overwhelming disappointment and gloom that's getting me to the next level creatively. Let's hope it's real for me and you (as it may be). So here's to a little creative suckage on a melting Monday (it was 94 degrees at 10:00). I hope u have a wonderful, cool day in your little space of the world. Until then... (originally posted on 7/23/2012).

Sunday, July 22, 2012

"The Nots" (A Very Long Post)

I've been really floored by how wonderful my reading challenge has been going over the last almost seven months.  The quality of the reading has been at times divine and surprisingly pleasing.  I've spent a good deal of time in both fiction and non-fiction with crafty pieces sprinkled through out.  I just finished this book by the wonderful Susannah Conway and started this ditty by Kristin Neff.  I got the second book "recommendation" from Brene' Brown's website.  I noticed it was on her nightstand and wanted to learn a little more about self compassion after reading her fantastic books.  Susannah and Kristin have helped me become familiar with something called "the nots."  "The nots" are those things we repeat to ourselves so much that we give them a corporal shape and form.  They are spoken into existence.  I started thinking about all my "nots" and why I'm having such an effing hard time with being creative right now.  And guess what - there's that eight year old girl staring me in the face.

In second grade, I had the most fantastic teacher.  I loved being in her classroom and she fueled my love for words and books.  Unfortunately - this is also the year I began to tell myself that I didn't have the "art" gene.  I started to notice how other kids were able to draw, color, and create things in a way I believed I never would have imagined.  This is the year "the nots" took over when it came to drawing, painting, cutting, gluing, you name it.   I became the non-artist.

If there is one thing I've learned about creativity - it is the necessity to move forward and learn new things.  Without the challenge, we become stagnant - burnt out.  "The nots" have been keeping me from moving forward and I am afraid they will take everything creative I've cultivated in myself since 2007 and make it disappear.  I can't have that - not now, not ever.  I thought it was time to put those "nots" out in the open and start tackling them one by one.  So here's the short list of my "nots".

  • I am NOT an artist.
  • I am NOT a painter.
  • I am NOT creative.
  • I am NOT a writer.
  • I am NOT as good/smart/pretty/talented/(put any adjective here) as _____________________.

The last "not" is a big one because if I'm not as good as that person - why in the world am I doing this thing?  This is the thought that brings me to my knees.  I wonder how often "the nots" keep me from moving forward - from my doing my very best.  Who would I be without them?

Patterned Paper: Heidi Swapp, Cosmo Cricket, Studio Calico, Crate Paper: Stamp: Stamping Bella (image), Hero Arts (sentiment); Ink: Ranger Archival Ink, Distress Ink (Spun Sugar); Markers; Ranger Distress Markers; Embossing Powder: Unknown; Vintage Paper: Red Lead Paperworks.
I thought I'd give a quick example.  I know the first picture isn't great but it gives you the overall look.  I made this card for a friend's birthday last week.  I waited until the last minute to do the card due to my massive amounts of panic when it comes to crafting lately.  I used my distress markers in the exact way I had seen on several tutorials.  I chose one of my favorite images.  I stamped it on vintage paper from my LSS.  I took one hour to color this girl and I ended up hating it.   It's growing on me now - but still all I see are the flaws - the "nots."  

  • The colors are NOT blended well.
  • The papers are NOT matched well.
  • Text was NOT a good choice for the stamped image.
  • I can NOT make perfect cards.

If you didn't realize it by now - I hate the "nots."  I'm giving the "nots" the finger and trying to remember there is more to this creativity thing.  Why?  I know there is a sweet spot.  I've been there before.  I know because of this...

Patterned Paper: American Crafts, Echo Park; Stamps: Unity Stamps (She Art Girl by Christy Tomlinson); Hero Arts; Markers: Spectrum Noir; Ink: Studio Calico, Ranger Archival; Button: Bella Blvd; Cardstock: Archivers
I made this card five days before the one above.  I made mistakes - which I fixed to the best of my ability.  I played around with color and even sprayed the background when I realized the white was just too bright.  Eight days later...I love it.  I don't feel the "nots," not to say I didn't feel them then.  

There have been plenty of times when things have worked - when I've pushed the limits and come out the other side.  It's scary and hard but it's doable.  I can do this.  I need to start repeating that to myself.  I need to go to the mattresses with these "nots" and kick them in the ass.  I have to fight for my creativity (dramatic, I know)....

So anyhoo - it's a long post.  It's definitely one I needed after reading so much about unraveling and self compassion.  I'm still having a hard time in that chair - but I'll get through it.  I have to.  I hope everyone has a lovely Sunday where the "nots" are few and far between (non-existent even).  Until then...

Friday, July 20, 2012

I've Been Thinking...

I've been thinking a lot about this blog of mine and moving forward.  I've hit a real low in my creative stride and am continuously contemplating my next steps.  I've tried to re-immerse myself in the things I loved when I was my higher eight year old self (reading, watching movies, creating stories, cutting my mom's catalogs to create paper dolls and building whole lives and communities, etc.) and I just feel weighted down.  I have no clue how to reconnect with that little girl.  I know a big part of the puzzle is getting rid of my bitchy inner critic and learning to play without the parameters or fear of imperfection.  I just don't know how to let it go.  So I feel stuck in this quagmire with no direct instructions on what to do next.  I know the things I've been doing aren't working.  It is one of my pet peeves to know what's not working without any hint of an idea of what might work...the story of my life it seems.  Constantly defined by the things I don't want or what doesn't work - not the things that make me happy.  How does one get to this place?  How does one get out?  There's this perfect quote that embodies my next steps...

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” 
― Howard Thurman

In just three short sentences, Mr. Thurman gets it.  I need to start asking.  I need to start questioning myself more.  What makes me come alive?  So that is the question for now.  I've finally started to carve that out in my work life - I need some help in the other far more neglected parts of my life.  I hope to be back soon with pictures of the thank you cards for my sister - done in record time I might add (less than a week).  I thought my hand might never recover.  Fortunately, a few weeks of rest and regular use of wrist splints got these hands back to their prime shape - which is honestly pretty crappy to begin with.  Anyhoo - I hope there will be more to come (fun, relatively painless, crafting and blogging - that is).  See you soon.  Have a lovely weekend.  Until then...

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