A Sympathy Card

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One of my new supervisees’ grandfather is really ill and not expected to make it.  I made this card, thinking of her, but knowing that if he did make come-back I could keep it for another such occasion.  The theme at the Twist of Faith Cards challenge this month is “Harvest”, and that just seemed to fit really well sympathy card (http://twistoffaithcards.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/challenge-60-harvest.html).

I found the photo of cross-shaped grave markers in the tundra in an old National Geographic (my go-to magazine for beautiful images).  Even though the colors certainly don’t scream “harvest”, I was just really drawn to the picture.  I searched for “harvest” references in my Bible app, knowing that there would be one that was related to the end of life, and found the quote from Matthew 13:39 “The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.”  Even though the reference was to a much larger ending (a foreshadowing of Revelations, it seems), I think it works really well with the passing of an individual, especially one who has lived a long and rich life.

I wanted to get some color in the card, because my coworker’s grandfather has been ill for quite some time (both with dementia and with physical ailments), and in cases like this death can be somewhat of a blessing- both for the person who’s finally passing after years of suffering and her/his loved ones who have had to bare witness to that suffering.  Just like there is some beauty in autumn, with the colors of the leaves and the bounty of the harvest before the cold barrenness of the winter, there can be beauty in passing, surrounded by family and friends, after such suffering.

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It’s been a while… and a few cards

As promised, my new job has been somewhat overwhelming.  But the launch of our department is tomorrow, so hopefully all the hard work will pay off (or it will be a complete disaster, I’ll get fired, and I’ll have all the time in the world to craft and blog).  Today was a holiday for us, Columbus Day.  It’s actually one of my least favorite holidays, because of the tragedy of his story that we end up glorifying and celebrating, but who can knock a day off?  I ended up working about 3/4 of the day to get ready for tomorrow, but I spent the rest of my time off making some cards.  I needed that.

Here’s what I came up with, and the challenges that inspired them:

ImageI made this for Sketch N Scrap’s  http://sketchnscrap.blogspot.com/2013/10/card-sketch-11-special-prize-alert.html.  This has been one of my favorites, as having the sketch gives me a nice backbone to work off of.  I made it for my new church birthday card ministry.  I’ve sent cards out to about 4-5 people each month for the past couple months and it’s been really fun.  Now I have to go to my list and find some October birthdays that haven’t already passed.

The colors in this card came from The Paper Players’ color challenge this week (http://thepaperplayers.blogspot.com/2013/10/pp167-jaydees-color-challenge.html).  Jaydee chose Midnight Muse, Pool Party, and Whisper White.  I found perfect great paper for the background in a huge book of origami paper my wonderful wife bought me last weekend in NYC (I go to NY and one of the only things I got was actually from the Barnes & Noble that we hung out in to kill some time before our dinner reservation).  It had that perfect Pool Party color, so I popped it on the background (also, the sketch had a really neat polka-dotted background, so I thought this worked well).  I used a midnight blue stamp pad for the small letters on the stamps, the Sharpie-drawn partial frame, and the ribbon.  Funny thing about the frame is that was actually the side of my sewing tin that I traced.  It was the perfect shape for the sketch:

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The Whisper White is in the background of the background paper and the white Pitt Pen I used for the first letters of “Happy Birth Day”.  I love those little tags but they’re ordinarily so expensive that I’d never spring for them.  They were one of my finds at Resources for Rhode Island Educators (https://craftymadre.com/2013/08/25/heaven-im-in-heaven/).

I’m also entering this card in the Simon Says Stamp Blog Wednesday Challenge  (http://www.simonsaysstampblog.com/wednesdaychallenge/).  The challenge was to use Rubber or Clear Stamps.  I used my favorite set of clear cling stamps from Hero Arts for the small letters.

The second card I made this afternoon was inspired by the Paper Craft Star photo challenge  (http://papercraftstar.blogspot.ca/2013/10/challenge-165.html).  They post a photo to use a photo for inspiration, and the photos are always really neat.  I’ve checked out their challenges before, but never been able to think of anything that seemed to work.  This week’s photo was a great autumn massage storefront scene, complete with pumpkins and foliage.  People seem to be making a lot of Halloween cards, but, to tell you the truth, I’ve never really given a Halloween card.  I didn’t think of it as a “card” holiday.  So, instead, I made a birthday card using the colors.

ImageThe background was a page out of the aforementioned origami paper book.  The paper’s all square (for obvious reasons), so I used the piece I cut off to add a little accent (folding it to give it some dimension before taping it on and then adding some ribbon on top of that).  The folded paper is one of my favorite ways to add the ribbon look for gift wrapping (and might just be my Quick Tip Tuesday tip for tomorrow, if I can get around to posting about it.)  I used some awesome Tim Holtz cardboard letters I’ve had tucked away for just such a look and glued them on.  I really love this color scheme, and the challenge was the perfect way to show it off.  I’m also entering it in Tammy Scrapin’ Corner’s Fall Colors themed challenge:  http://www.tammyscrapincorner.com/2013/10/challenge-84-at-tammy-scrappin-corner.html and House of Gilli’s Anything Goes/Fall theme challenge:  http://houseofgilli.blogspot.com/2013/09/challenge-54-anything-goesfall.html.

Finally, I made a nautical themed card for the Simon Says Stamp Blog’s MONDAY CHALLENGE (I love that they have 2 challenges a week on two different blogs named for the days they’re posted- it’s always easy to know when they next one will be up).  (http://www.simonsaysstampblog.com/mondaychallenge/challenge-nautical/)

ImageThis was my least favorite card of the bunch, and I wasn’t really sure what to do with it.  The theme was “Nautical”, and it’s not something I’ve done much with.  But, I happened to have this ship stamp and the “Bon Voyage” in my collection, so I figured “What the heck?”.  I used a 3rd piece of origami paper (trust me, there were over 800 pages, so I have plenty left to actually use for origami).  I used my midnight blue stamp pad to color the edges a little and then stamped it up.  I finished it off with a square knot at the top.  I didn’t really make this for anyone in particular, but it can go in my card box for the next time I need a going away card in a rush.

Quick Tip Tuesday: Scratch pad

ImageThe city I live in has a great, single-stream recycling program for residents, but does absolutely nothing for businesses.  It’s really frustrating.  My company, despite having adopted an Electronic Medical Record and going “paperless” a year ago, still seems to created a ton of paper that ends up being thrown away.  Everything with confidential information on it can be put in the shred bin and end up being recycled, but they’re a bit stingy about things that don’t, technically, need to be shredded (probably because they pay by the pound for that stuff).  So, I try to print front/back, bring home as much paper as I can to recycle, and find other things to do with the paper I have left.  One use for the blank sides of papers is making these little scratch pads.  I just cut or tear them up into quarters and use a binder clip to hold them together.  I take all my phone messages on these little pads and even use them instead of post-its when I can- just paperclipping the scrap page onto something that I’d normally stick a post-it on.

I even thought to decorate a binder clip to make things a little prettier.  I mod-podged on a piece of a lacy cloth napkin that I tea-dyed and then used silver marker paint on the left over black edges.  Little touches like this really add some fun to my workday and make me feel better about my own “footprint”.

Crossroads

Italo Calvino said: The more enlightened our houses are, the more their walls ooze ghosts. Describe the ghosts that live in this house: Image credit: “love Don’t live here anymore…” – © 2009 Robb North – made available under Attribution 2.0 Generic

I’ve been overwhelmed lately and haven’t had the time or energy to create much of anything.  And I haven’t liked it one bit.  But I have a little time tonight and felt the urge to blog… but what to say, share, do?  So I pushed the “Inspire me” link on WordPress and the image and quote above came up.  Of course, they’re pretty perfect for where my life has taken me right about now.

I’ve been thinking so much about balance, lately.  As I’ve been working to build a new department at my agency, one that I think I would truly love to run, I’ve had to give up a lot of the time I’d been able to spend on my crafting.   Things had gotten pretty stagnant in my last position and I had been able to do it without a lot of thought or effort.  This was a new sensation for me, as I’d always been pretty consumed by work (working in a mental health field can easily be all-consuming).  Luckily, I was able to channel the extra time and energy I had into my crafting and I realized that I’d gotten to really love that part of myself.

The quote speaks to me of my own “enlightenment”, or my moving up in the social services world into a position I’ve  always thought I wanted.  But the “ghosts” that I’m afraid that I’m creating are the possible ghosts of my creative, family,  and spiritual lives.  I’m afraid about work consuming my life once again, as it’s done at so many points in the past.  There aren’t enough hours in the day to be able to do everything I want to do.  But I know there are things I need to do.  These are the things I’ve learned about myself in the past several months of having the creative time I’ve had:

– When I have the time to be creative, I feel alive.

– When I have the energy to participate actively in my faith community, I feel connected.

– When I feel alive and connected, I’m a great mother and wife.

So, what to do?

I’m so scared about being that little house in the picture with the sad title:  “love Don’t live here anymore”.   I’m scared about not being able to balance the pressures of work and life and still make time for the things that really feed my soul.  I’m scared that the career goal I’d always aspired to (moving up in the agency, having the chance to have a greater impact on the lives of a greater number of people) may end up being the thing that makes me into a person I don’t want to be.

How do you balance work and life and yourSELF?

A room with a view

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I’ll know I’ve “made it” when I have a window in my office. Alas, I’m not quite there yet. So, in the spirit of making lemons into lemonade, I made myself a window a couple years ago.

I found an old window on the side of the road. It was old (I already said that), distressed, dirty, and the panes were intact: perfect.  I cleaned it up, sanded the wood lightly, slapped enough paint on to make it still distressed but in a different color, and picked out a “view”.

The photo I chose was one my dad took on a trip to Australia. He’s an amazing photographer and I love the colors in this photo; the contrasting ocean, cliff, sky; the calmness of it all.  Here’s a better view of the photo itself (taken from a tricky angle with my office lights off and just the camera flash).
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He had it printed and mounted on foam core (I’m not sure what it cost but I’m guessing it wasn’t cheap). That’s probably the key to it staying in the frame so well and staying so vibrant even a couple years later.  I used little nails to secure it into the frame.  I also put a couple ATCs I made around the edges, mostly because I couldn’t think of anywhere else to put them. (The one with the ark is an image from a Heifer Fund card which I cut up and “embellished”.)
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It’s not the same as a real window to the outdoors, but the view’s beautiful and the weather’s always perfect.

A few cards for a couple challenges

ImageFirst off, more Christmas cards!!!  (Thanks, Spike, I’m still on a roll.)  I’ve gotten a little collection started and I’m having so much fun.  Addicted to CAS (i.e. clean and simple) is doing a Holiday challenge this week, so what better excuse to add to my collection?  http://addictedtocas.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/atcas-challenge-20.html

I made these out of the same handy-dandy tree template I used in this previous card creation: https://craftymadre.com/2013/08/20/easy-peasy-christmas-cards-inspired-by-spike/ (Hence, the earlier credit given to Spike.)  I used our Bingo ink daubers (my wife is a REAL Bingo fan) to fill in the whole inside of the trees.  I like that it’s not a solid green with the little bit of variation in saturation that the dauber created.  Actually, I picked the colors (green, aqua, and orange) for a challenge that I missed by a couple hours, but I still think they look nice together.  The “Peace” is a stamp I did with orange marker and the aqua button is from the Paper Pumpkin kit I got recently (talked about in the above  post).  It’s hard to tell, but I secured it with glitter glue.

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I started off with the trees being just the green but thought they were missing something.  I wanted to keep it simple, so I grabbed a wire screw cap from my box of doo-dads and used it to stamp little circles on the trees for ornaments.  The first one I used an orange marker for ink but it was too light, I thought, so I used a dark green stamp pad for the second one.  And then I just left it alone (see, I’m getting better at this “clean and simple” thing).

And then there are these:

The Drunken Stampers challenge for the week is a Person: Party Planner (http://drunkenstampers.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/person-party-planner-drunken-stampers-challenge-138/)  The challenge is to design cards for any kind of party.  On Friday, two of my favorite front office staff are leaving for school and part time positions.  We’re having a little “onward and upward” party for them- it’s not going away because they’ll still be with the agency but they won’t be with us as much (which is very sad- great staff are hard to come by).  So, I made these cards:Image

I actually cut apart the card my dad gave me for Valentine’s Day a couple years ago (yeah, I still have it) for the banner, arrows, and swirly punches.  The yellow striped banner is from the aforementioned Paper Pumpkin kit (I’m getting a lot of mileage out of this thing) and the stamps are from a bunch of random collections.  I made the little arrow and attached it with a brad as a little suggestion of the many possible directions life could take them.  On the inside, I used a couple more stamps and then made my own out of another eraser (the pseudo Chevron/Charlie Brown-reminiscent zig zag).  I was thinking of an abstract way to suggest upward movement (or maybe I just had Peanuts on my brain).  Image

I don’t think I’m ever going to stop loving carving these eraser stamps!

A card for a sad occasion

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A woman I used to work with on our local psychiatric crisis and trauma response teams died in a car accident last weekend.  She was just a little older than me (late 40s, maybe).  It was so sudden it’s still hard to believe.  I continue to work closely with the crisis team, which is part of the agency I work with, and remember from having spent about a year with them what a close, tight-knit family they are.  I think you have to be to do that kind of work.

I made this card to send the team, and am also going to enter it in a couple challenges.  I think the clean and simple look works well for sympathy cards (and for crisis teams, for that matter), but it’s something that I’m not necessarily used to doing.  I’m finding that I really do like it, even though it can be a real challenge not to overdo it.  Here are the challenges where I’m submitting it to:

http://cleanandsimpleonsunday.blogspot.com/2013/08/challenge-14-tag-it.html – This was the one I was originally planning to contribute to, and their clean and simple motif fit perfectly.

http://stampotiquedesignerschallenge.blogspot.com/2013/07/sdc109-clean-simple.html – Clean and simple is not the typical style for this blog, but I’m glad they’re trying it.  The contributions to this challenge are amazing and it’s so cool to see people playing “outside of their comfort zones” a bit.  (Oops!  I missed this one by a few minutes.  Maybe next month.)

http://thedynamicduoschallenge.blogspot.com/2013/08/dynamic-duos-64-strawberry-slush-and.html – This challenge was a somewhat interesting choice for this card, as the colors this week are “Strawberry Slush and Daffodil Delight”.  They’re described as a “bright and cheerful color duo”.  I’ve found that when making (and receiving) sympathy cards, the use of color can really be a nice way to add some light and brightness into what can be a really dark time.

I used unmounted stamps on my new stamp-press, and liked that they could be laid out so precisely around the tag I had already secured to the card and then pressed on all at once.  However, I couldn’t figure out how to get the ink on the stamps once they were stuck on without getting ink all over the press, as well.  I tried to wipe it off, but I was worried about the ink on the stamps drying.  Some of the excess ink got on the card, so I covered up the smudges with a couple more little leaf stamps.  Any ideas on how to make this work better?