ATCs in August

ATCs in August

I love Artist Trading Cards!

I am part of an online community that creates and trades these wonderful pieces of art and creativity. And this year, my goal was to trade at least one set of ATCs per month.

You lucky readers get to see them each month! (I know. I know. Try and contain your excitement.)

Here are my August trades. The theme was “Tickets, Please” and the materials were collage/mixed media.

If you are interested in joining or just seeing some really beautiful and interesting miniature pieces of art, check them out!


Returning to University

This is it.

I am biting the bullet. I am doing it. I am returning to college to earn my Master’s Degree in English.

As I explained to my husband (in an effort to clear it up for myself), I have three reasons for doing this.

First, the kids are getting older and my homeschooling responsibilities are shifting from full time teaching to part time teaching and full time advising and guiding. Also, a lot of driving.

A lot of driving.

This shift in responsibilities has given me extra time for self improvement.

Second, my eldest child is heading off to college in a few months and the prospect of a home with fewer and fewer children seems to be getting closer much faster than I thought. I swore long ago that I wouldn’t be an empty-nester moms, purposeless and lost, who spends months crying her eyes out when her last child leaves for college. Seeking a degree in higher education will help me get a job outside of the home.

Third, my last paid occupation outside of the home was eighteen and half years ago. I was a technical writer. Well, let me tell you, technical then and technical now are worlds apart. After some research, I found that I would have to take many, many science classes and I wouldn’t be able to work from home . Basically, I would have to prove my abilities in a corporate environment before I could work from my home office.

Technical writing wasn’t going to work because (a.) I still have homeschooling responsibilities and (b.) I can study science but I certainly don’t enjoy it.

And then my kids said, “You know, you should teach at the community college. They need English teachers.”

It resonated with me. And when I say that I mean, a lightbulb appeared over my head . I thought about it. I researched it. And I remembered way back in the old days when I started my Master’s degree before shunting it to the side to earn big money as a technical writer.

So teaching English is the end goal. And a Master’s degree is the first step.

And here I am. Beginning a journey, older and wiser.

Tea or Coffee?

I’m addicted.

I tried out this thing called coffee staining paper and I can’t stop.

I kept seeing all these beautiful journals with the tea and coffee stained paper and doilies and ribbon. And I said, I have to try this.

I went online and read about it. And then I searched youtube. And I found Lori (Just a Girl from the Bay). Her instructions on how to dye paper using your oven were spot on. So I tried it.

piles of paper

And now I can’t stop.
I need help.

The first time I tried it, I used coffee. In the video, Lori used instant coffee granules, but I was looking for a way to recycle the grounds from Keurig coffee containers. I saved up about a week’s worth (so around 7 or 8 containers), and then my husband brewed them through the machine for some seriously dark coffee…or so I thought.

The dye wasn’t as dark as I thought it would be. It certainly didn’t look as dark as all the cool journals that I admired.

The second time, I saved up around two weeks worth of coffee containers (around 14) and I put them in a coffee filter lined wire strainer. I set it in a disposable aluminum roasting pan and poured boiling water over it. I let it steep for about 30 minutes.

I also made another pan using the same system but I used a loose dark tea.

Both pans looked incredibly dark to me but for some reason, the tea stained darker. I don’t know if it’s a component of the tannins or what.

You can see that on regular paper, tea  is darker. (Tea is on the left side)

reg paper comparison

On regular paper with a design on it, tea is darker. (Tea is on the left side)

umbrella pics comparison

Even on a medium weight catalog paper, tea is darker. (Tea is on the left.)

Also, the tea tended to stain more evenly while the coffee left interesting blotches and marks.

I really liked how both sets of colors turned out. But I definitely like the rustic look of tea stained paper more.

So check out Lori’s instructions and give it a try. My next post will be how I did it, with accompanying pictures.

Let me know how your adventure turns out!


Back Again.

Hello, again!

Yes, I thought this day would never come. But it’s here!

The last few years have been a bit bumpy and the three reasons are…

Teenagers, Start ups, and Early Empty Nest Planning.

First of all, over the last few years (and I don’t quite know how this happened) I suddenly have three teenagers and one tween in my house. Teens with hair issues. Teens with social issues. Teens with time management issues.

It’s not that they were particularly hard to handle. I mean, I have relatively good kids. They study hard. They have a general path that they are following, passions they are pursuing. But anyone who tells you that teens require less time than toddlers is fooling themselves. I’ve spent more time communicating and negotiating with my teens than I have ever had to in my entire parenting career! (And that includes the potty training years!)

Second, I thought that encouraging my husband to pursue his dream of a start up would be fun! {Follow your passion, honey! I’m behind you all the way!} Plus, he would be working from home and would therefore be able to help drive the teens mentioned above to their various and sundry activities.

Hah! Another fallacy!

What it means is that now my husband works at his office away from home and when he gets home, he continues working in his office here!

Third, I planned a little too much in advance. I swore to myself that I wouldn’t be one of those moms who falls apart when their kids go away to college. So I started pursuing some of my own interests.

Yeah. Not such a good idea. My schedule got so overbooked that I was constantly stressed, continuously harried, and everything was falling through the cracks. The positive thing was that I wasn’t yelling at the kids. Mainly because I never saw the kids!

I scaled it back and focused in on what I really wanted to do.

And here I am. Back with you and writing about my exploits!
Hooray for coming back home!

Thank You Cards

Thank You Cards

I have been playing with stuff in my craft room and in May, I have been creating thank you cards.

I made three for my boys to send to family for birthday gifts that they received.

And I made one mini card for one of my professors.

arabic thanks 1

And, I can tell you, crafting really does relieve the pressure and insanity of everyday life. Just one little flash of creativity made such a huge difference for me. Especially when I needed to detox after a grueling semester.

Enjoy!  (‘Cause I sure did!)

New Philosophy: Clear the Clutter

I was browsing through Pinterest when I saw an illustrated picture with the following saying;

Use it Up. Wear it Out. Make it Do or Do Without.

use it up

Usually, I would read something like this, admire the font and the background, and then move on.

But this time, it struck me. Hard.

You see, for the past year, while I have been exercising on the treadmill and stationary bike, I have been watching inspirational videos on YouTube. They are mostly from TedX and lately, they have been about clutter. Basically, the theory is that clutter in your home leads to stymied creativity and general unhappiness.

I didn’t believe this theory when I first saw it.

But then I started taking classes at university. And these classes were not easy. There was a ton of reading and writing and…deep thinking. I was physically swamped and mentally exhausted. And within two weeks, the cleaning schedule that we had adhered to in the house was (conveniently) forgotten by everyone. Stuff started piling up all over the house. The children’s rooms were swamplands of disgust. The kitchen cabinets that had been so organized (to me) were now teetering disasters waiting to happen.

I got more and more frustrated and finally, just overwhelmed. I kept asking why was this happening? Why was all this stuff not organized like before? Why couldn’t I keep on top of it? I threw my hands up in despair and managed to keep things together until finals.

After my last paper was turned in and I was able to collapse on the couch with a pad of paper and a pen, I figured it out.

We just had too much stuff.  It was exactly like those lecturers on TedX had said.

I couldn’t handle it and the rest of the family didn’t want to. The stuff that I thought was important for a happy life was not important to anyone else and it was just making me downright miserable.

So the very next day, I bought a new shovel and started working my way through the house.  I started going from closet to closet and cleaning stuff out. And I couldn’t believe what I found.

Four sets of sheets that had no fitted sheets! Two 9×13 baking pans, 1 muffin tin, and two frying pans that were too rusted to be used safely! Six extra pillows and 16 random pillow cases that were just hanging out in the back of the closet!

I attacked each closet and each area with gusto. I cleaned. I sorted. I bagged. I delivered to Goodwill. It was refreshing. It was freeing. It was amazing!

And my new rule is: If something comes in. Something has to go out.

Or maybe the new rule is: If it doesn’t have a home, it needs to go.

Or possibly it is: If we haven’t used the thing in over a year, maybe it’s time to let someone else use it, enjoy it, take it.

And that’s before I even start on my Craft Room of Creative Splendor and my dreaded Clothes Closet of Doom.

I’ll keep you updated on how that’s going! But in the meantime, feel the freedom for yourself. Start with one drawer or one spot on the counter or even one pocket of your purse. You’ll feel better…believe me!



Begin Again

I have begun a new phase of my life. And I’m pretty excited about it. Also, a bit apprehensive.

After years of being a stay-at-home mother and homeschooling jack-of-all-trades, I am now adding  “official college student” to my repertoire. It started when my eldest child left for college.

I don’t mean started attending college. He started that while he was still at home. I mean he left the building, left the house, left the city.

I took a long look at the rest of the kids and started calculating their dates of departure in my head. And I’ll admit it, I was filled with happiness at their success and filled with a sense of dread at the prospect of hours and hours of free time. I mean, crafting is fun but, all day long?

I don’t know about that.

I didn’t want to be that mom. You know, the mom that falls apart when her children leave. Although, truthfully, I’ve never met this mythical person. But I didn’t want to be her. I started thinking about what I wanted to do and I kept coming back to the same idea in different forms.

Teach. I want to teach or train or instruct.

However, even though I have been teaching my own children for the last 17 plus years. And even though I have been a trainer at the Boy Scouts for the past 7 plus years. And even though I have trained adults at Toastmasters for 3 years. It seems I am not qualified to teach young adults at the community college level without a Master’s Degree. (If you are not reading the sarcasm in those statements, please go back and read it while rolling your eyes and sighing loudly. You will get the idea of how I felt.)

I strongly believe in creating your own way in the world and that everyone should be constantly learning new things in their own way. However, in this case, I am toeing the line and following the directions that are required in order to earn a Master’s Degree at our local state university.

And even though I am older than some of the instructors who are teaching me. Even though I am almost double the age of most of the other students.  And even though I am quite confident that I would be able to teach the beginning composition classes that I want to teach right now with the skills I already have, I am following the rules and  seeking my Master’s Degree.

I have completed my first semester and, like other students, I am reveling in my summer break. So during this summer break, I will be posting all the different craft projects that I have completed and am working on.

Until next fall when classes start again.

Then I’ll be posting all the projects I will be working on while procrastinating on my homework.




Creature Feature

There is a creature in my studio. And it is belligerent.

How do I know this?

For the last three days, I have come into my office/studio to find every item on a horizontal surface pushed to the ground, scattered like a burglar has gone through looking for money and jewelry.

No. It’s not a burglar. Unless this burglar also has tiny paw prints and tries to claw it’s way out of the window screen.

Unsuccessfully, I might add.

After poking and prodding every nook and cranny in the entire room (and I didn’t realize how many of them there actually were), I am unable to find it. The kids suggested I crawl up into the attic and see if it was up there.

Brilliant idea but I’ll pass.

So tonight, the screen is out and I’m hoping that the unknown creature will simply crawl out of my life and my office.

And I swear that I will never leave the door to the outside open again. Especially after dark. Or ever. Amen.