"The more you trust and rely upon the Spirit,
the greater your capacity to create."

~Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Monday, December 26, 2011


Recently, I hosted an ATC swap on Paper Traders with a "Legs" theme.  The backgrounds on my cards were all hand drawn and watercolored.


I made these paper ornaments for our 12 Days of Christmas swap on Paper Traders.   It's hard to tell from the scan, but I hand painted a pearlescent top coat to highlight specific elements before layering on the chipboard and paper punched pieces.

I also made some ornaments for friends and family... these were done by gluing vintage sheet music to wooden forms and then layering the bird images from napkins.  I got the idea for these cute button berries from Sassy & Sweet Notes - aren't they cute?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Holiday Letter, of sorts

This week I've received several letters and emails from friends and family - annual updates in the tradition of the Holiday Letter.  I've never been very good about writing those, much less getting them sent out and I suppose this year is no different.  I think it's because my life seems quite simple and, well, somewhat boring.  I don't have any exciting news to share or poignant photos to show off.  Mostly, I'm just glad to have made it through another year in relatively safe and sane fashion.  But, to bow to tradition and to appease those who complain that I don't share enough about my life, here's an update for the past year...

After my scary auto accident last winter, I purchased a new vehicle in late December 2010.  I am grateful to have a reliable car that gets good mileage and runs in perfect condition... it's also nice to have a few extra bells and whistles - automatic windows and door locks are an appreciated luxury!

My health hasn't been the greatest this year - I've struggled with my weight and a pervasive tiredness that had my doctor concerned.  After several blood tests, we discovered my Vitamin D levels were "dangerously low" (to quote my doctor) and the supplements that followed have gone a long way to helping me feel less like a walking zombie.  I recently joined back up on Weight Watchers and am hoping, once again, to find some success at the scales (after the holiday treats are finished off, of course!).

Work has been extremely busy for me.  I'm still working for State Farm (almost 16 years now) but splitting my time between two offices.  I'm grateful for the job and benefits - especially in this struggling economy - but working part time at each location makes me feel perpetually behind the game, always trying to catch up, never quite getting there, and feeling stressed out most of the time.  Thankfully, I work for two wonderful women whom I love and respect and who genuinely appreciate the effort I put into my work.

In May, I took a trip to Wyoming and South Dakota.  I was blessed to attend my oldest nephew's high school graduation as well as visit with my aging grandparents.  I often wish I had the time and money to travel to see them more often.  I am truly blessed with a wonderful and loving family.  In November, I flew to Cody WY to spend Thanksgiving with my parents, sisters, and their families.  They have such amazing and beautiful children and I'm a very proud aunt!

Christmas this year is spent here in San Diego, home alone... and appreciatively so.  I was lucky enough to get a four day weekend and it's been wonderfully relaxing - a welcome change to my normally hectic pace.  I've barely made a dent in my "to-do" list and am already thinking about when I can plan a little "stay-cation" in the near future to finally spend some real productive time at home for some cleaning and organizing that's long overdue.

When I'm not working and sleeping, I'm usually doing art or planning art projects for our Paper Traders group.  Moderating takes a lot of time and effort... even more so this past year as our membership has expanded and we took on the challenge of creating a group blog as well.  If you follow my posts here, you've seen some of the projects we've done this year.  I just wish I had more time to spend on the creative aspects as it's a nice counterbalance to my normal OCD tendencies  =)

In July, I was invited to be a guest artist on the popular Gingersnap Creations blog.  I was very honored by the recognition.  I was asked to create four original pieces - each one based on a different challenge.  It was a growing experience for me as an artist and I hope that I can continue to expand creatively.

I am really looking forward to the New Year - even though I know it's just another mark on the calendar, it always feels like a fresh start.  I am truly grateful for my wonderful friends and family and am blessed to have their influence in my life.  I wish each of you the very best this Christmas Day and I hope the year to come brings you many wonderful blessings!

With love,

P.S.  Here's a favorite Christmas short I'd like to share with you:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Blog Challenge: Party Hats

It's time for another blog challenge over at the Paper Traders blog and the theme this time is "Party Hats."  I decided to make an actual hat for this one...

Blog challenges are fun to do.  Hop on over to Paper Traders and take on the challenge!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Quirky Christmas

Can you believe that Christmas is right around the corner?  The time has really flown by!  And it's also time for another blog challenge over at Paper Traders.  The theme this time is "Quirky Christmas" and I used some fun images from iTkUpiLLi (love her stuff!) to make this funny little ATC.

Blog challenges are easy - you can make any kind of art you like that follows the theme.  Come on over to Paper Traders and join the fun!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Vintage Working Women

There's another blog challenge opening this week over on the Paper Traders blog.  The theme this time is "Vintage Working Women" and I choose to make another greeting card using a vintage image of a nurse.

Blog challenges are easy and fun!  Come on over to Paper Traders and play along...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Blog Challenge: American Indian

The theme for the Paper Traders Blog Challenge this week is American Indian.  I made another greeting card using some native dancers that I trimmed from a vintage postcard.  The dreamcatcher featured here is actually a clear sticker.

The blog challenges are easy and fun!  Come on over and play along...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Altar Shrine

I'm hosting another swap over at our Paper Traders group.  Every year about this time, we celebrate the anniversary of our group with a special project.  This year we will be making altar shrines.  I created mine using a small 1x2x3-inch wood block for the altar and attaching a taller 3x7-inch chipboard piece to the back to make the shrine and glued beads to the bottom for feet.  I covered everything in pretty scrapbook paper and added a beautiful public domain image of Cordelia by Arthur Rackham from "The Tales of Shakespeare" by Charles & Mary Lamb.  I got this image from my Green Tiger Press stash  =)  I dressed up the shrine with german scrap, graced our lovely lady with a regal crown, added some words on friendship, attached some floral sprigs, and placed six offerings on my altar (in  honor of the sixth anniversary).

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Blast from the Past

Several of my friends (especially the long-distance ones) have commented that even though they enjoy seeing my art on the blog, they would like to hear more about what is happening in my life.  The truth of the matter is... not much.  I work full-time (and then some!) and spend most of my spare time working on my art and moderating our Paper Traders group.

The art group is continuing to grow and expand and we created a blog this year - which is terrific, but also a lot of work.  I think we get a pretty decent level of participation in our group swaps but it's often hard to get people to host projects so that task generally falls to us moderators.  Not that hosting is difficult, but when you do it regularly, it doesn't leave much time to fit in other things.

One of the "other things" I keep telling myself I need to do is to participate in more Single Adult activities with my church.  I am perfectly happy staying in and doing the art thing but I'm never going to meet anybody at home in my pj's  =)   I did recently break out my old gypsy costume and put in an appearance at the annual Halloween dance.  It was nice to see a few old friends but I didn't really meet anybody new (it's hard to interact with people in a dark room with loud music) so my goal this next year is to get out of the house a little more before I turn into a complete recluse!

This past week, I actually did get out of the house to spend time with an old friend who was here for business.  Tim was my very best friend in high school and I haven't seen him since before graduation - 25 years ago!  Sometimes when you reconnect with old acquaintances, it's nice but a bit awkward; but this was not like that at all... instead, we were immediately able to start up a conversation almost as if no time had passed at all.  It was great to catch up and rediscover our friendship again.  Below is a picture we took when we were in high school... the other photo is (a grainy cell phone picture taken in the dark) from our meet-up this week:

It's hard to believe I've been back in San Diego for more than a year now.  Time has really flown.  I recently added more shelves to my art studio but it's STILL not clean and organized enough to unveil to the rest of the world.  I went "home" to Wyoming this summer and got to see my oldest nephew graduate from high school.  I am so proud of him and excited to see him starting college now.  I'm planning another trip for Thanksgiving this year and am really looking forward to seeing my family again.  I love being in San Diego but it's awfully far from them.

So, that should get me caught up for awhile... I promise to try to be better about keeping everyone updated  =)

Burt's Bees

I'm a BzzAgent and I recently received a free sample of Burt's Bees Natural Skin Solutions for Sensitive Skin cleanser and moisturizer and I've been using it for a few weeks now. I think this is an excellent product for sensitive skin. It's very mild and does the job - fresh, clean skin that is soft and not greasy. The only detractor for me is that it does not include sunscreen protection (like most of the Burt's Bees products)... but then I suppose sunscreen might not be good for those who have extremely sensitive skin.  If you want to give this stuff a try, you can get a $2 off coupon from their Facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/burtsbees?sk=app_137656902971961

Vintage Circus

Over at Paper Traders, Lynda is hosting a Vintage Circus mini book swap.  She will take one page from each artist and bind them into books for us.  These pages are 4" wide and 3" tall.  Most of my images are from Tumble Fish Studio and iTkUpiLLi, with a few other randoms things thrown into the mix.  The "C-I-R-C-U-S" pennant actually hangs on a string attached to the card and is not glued down.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue

The new blog challenge over at Paper Traders is to use a ship in your art.  Again, I used my new MyMemories digital scrapbooking software to create a digital collage.  I used elements from the "Brise Marine" kit by Mary89 as well as the "Poetry of the Sea" kit from Marie H Designs - both so pretty!  Once I had my picture created, I printed it out and layered it on some cardstock to create a little greeting card, complete with real seashell embellishments!

This was a really fun challenge.  Hop on over to Paper Traders and play along!

P.S.  There's still time to get $10 off your own copy of the MyMemories Suite v2 Software plus $10 in free products from MyMemories.com.  Just use my Promo Code: STMMMS53179

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Altered Cabinet Cards

Jeri is hosting a deco book swap on Paper Traders using altered cabinet cards and the theme "Time".  For the backgrounds, I trimmed around the people in the photos and then layered in papers from DCWV's Tattered Time paper stack.  Since the theme required to use a timepiece in some manner, I layered wings behind various clock faces and attached spinning clock hands with a brad; each card also features a grandfather clock.  These are pretty simple paper collage - no fancy techniques - but I think the end result is still good.  Once Jeri receives pages from all the participating artists, she will take one page from each and bind them into books for us.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Spiders Hate Orange

There's a new blog challenge happening over on the Paper Traders blog.  The theme this time is "Spiders Hate Orange" and it was a fun excuse to play with my new MyMemories digital scrapbooking software again.  I made this page using various elements from many sources (itkupilli, House of 3, etc.)  You can get $10 off your own copy of MyMemories Suite v2 Software plus $10 in free products from MyMemories.com if you use my Promo Code: STMMMS53179

I'm excited for Halloween coming up because it's such a fun holiday!  I've already purchased my Caramel Apple Pops and if I don't get many door ringers, there will be leftovers for me  =)

Jump on over to Paper Traders to get in the Halloween spirit and play along.  Happy haunting everyone!

Imaginary Garden

This is the last spread for the current round in the Paper Traders Round Robin Journal swap.  We'll be starting a new round after the first of the year.  This last book that I worked in belongs to Heather and she chose a beautiful theme: Imaginary Garden.

For this page, I used the watercolored paper she had included in her book, sponged ink around the edges, and glued a printed floral napkin over the top.  I then added dimensional aspects with silk flower petals and punched paper flowers.  Finally, I used my fingertips to spread glitter glue to highlight certain flowers.  The butterflies and birds were actually rub-ons.  Since hummingbirds are a rare thing for her to see up in Canada, I think she thought it was a real treat to have them in her book.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Halloween Flip Book

Connie is hosting a Halloween Flip Book swap over at Paper Traders.  We made a twinchie (2" square) page for each section of the body: head, middle, feet.  For the middle, she asked us to put some kind of Halloween image instead of a torso.  I used vintage paper dolls for mine and added spooky features - blackened eyes, witch hats, etc.  For the center piece, I used the MyMemories digital scrapbooking software to collage a little Halloween image.

When Connie receives all the pages from the other participating artists, she will bind one page from each into a fun little flip book!

P.S.  There's still time to save $10 off your own copy of the MyMemories Suite -PLUS- get an extra $10 credit toward any purchase... that's a $20 savings!  Just use my promo code: STMMMS53179

Friday, September 16, 2011

Bleached Background Papers

Unfortunately, these did not scan very well but they're really quite pretty.  I made these background papers for another swap in our Paper Traders group.  We stamped images onto black cardstock using bleach, then added color back in using various inks, and touching it all off with some metallic stamping - a really easy and fun technique!  You'll have to test your paper before you get started as not all cardstocks will yield good results.  I tried several (some of which didn't bleach out at all) and finally bought a few pages of Bazzill paper, which worked well.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Game Day

It's time for another installment of the Paper Traders blog challenge!  The theme this time is "Game Day" and you can interpret that any way you want.  I used some baseball images layered over an actual San Diego Padres ticket trimmed down to ATC size.  There's plenty of time to get in on this one so come play with us!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Autumn is almost here

I have noticed that the leaves on some of the trees are starting to change here in Southern California.  The weather's still quite warm and I'm looking forward to some cooler days.  It's hard to believe that Autumn will be here soon... this year had going by so fast!  This is my third season banner, which we're making in our Paper Traders group.  I am swapping this one with Barbara Staradumsky and as soon as her banner gets here, I'm swapping it out for my summer one as I look forward to the changing season.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

MyMemories Winner

We have a winner!  Congratulations to Bethany Austin!!  You have won my digital scrapbooking software giveaway.  I will be contacting MyMemories to have them send you your exclusive download code.  I hope you have lots of fun with your prize.  As an extra bonus from me, I will purchase for you the "School is Cool" pack that you said you liked in your comment.  Just let me know once you have your MyMemories software installed.

Thanks to everyone who entered.  Even though you didn't win, you can still get a terrific deal on this software by using my exclusive "Share the Memories" code which provides a $10 discount off the purchase of the My Memories Suite Scrapbook software plus a $10 coupon for the MyMemories.com store - a $20 value!  To take advantage of this special offer, go to the MyMemories Suite link here: http://www.mymemories.com/digital_scrapbooking_software and enter this special code: STMMMS53179

List Randomizer
There were 8 items in your list. Here they are in random order:
  1.     Bethany 1
  2.     Connie 2
  3.     Christine
  4.     Connie 1
  5.     Pat H
  6.     Letha 2
  7.     Bethany 2
  8.     Letha 1
Timestamp: 2011-09-11 17:33:01 UTC

Friday, September 9, 2011

Carnivals and Fairs

It's time for another fun blog challenge over at Paper Traders.  The theme this time is "Carnivals & Fairs" and I just had to make something using my new MyMemories digital scrapbooking software!

These photos were taken a few years ago when we went to Medieval Times for my friend Carolynn's birthday.  Fun times... Love you CC!!

P.S. Only one more day left to enter my software giveaway and have your chance to win a free copy of the MyMemories Suite for yourself...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Round Four: Angels (aka Pretty in Pink)

This month, I was honored to work in Kim Smith's book in our round robin journal project for Paper Traders.  Her theme was Angels and she specifically asked that we use renaissance-style angels in our work.  These pages turned out much pinker than I had envisioned but, I must say, they do look better in person than in the scan.

I used scrapbook paper with an old handwritten music ledger on it and then dabbed pink ink over the top using heart-shaped punchinella (sequin scrap).  The doilies and trims were originally gold but I rubbed pink acrylic paint on them using my finger.  The images were cut out of some lovely Christmas-themed scrapbook paper by Graphic45.  I trimmed the words with my gold leafing pen and added glitter to the angel wings using Distress Stickles.  As a final touch, I added the metal word plaque "Adore" and the key & keyhole charms at the top (another special request from Kim).  The poem on this says:

Away, away! To my love away.
Tel her I send her my love and devotion,
Wide as the world is,
and deep as the Ocean.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

MyMemories free software giveaway

Oh, my goodness!  I am so excited to share this opportunity with you.  I have been invited to share a special deal on the My Memories Suite software for digital scrapbooking ...AND... one lucky person will win a free copy!

I have to admit that until I was asked to participate in this giveaway, I had not done much scrapbooking and had never done any digital scrapbooking at all.  I downloaded a copy of My Memories Suite this afternoon and made 3 pages in just a matter of minutes.  This is so easy to use and super fun - I just may have found a brand new addiction.  They have lots of freebies on their website to get you started and give you inspiration and I also discovered that it's just as easy to create your own custom designs too.

As a special for all of my readers, My Memories has provided a "Share the Memories" code that provides a $10 discount off the purchase of the My Memories Suite Scrapbook software plus a $10 coupon for the MyMemories.com store - a $20 value!  To take advantage of this special offer, go to the MyMemories Suite link here: http://www.mymemories.com/digital_scrapbooking_software and enter this special code: STMMMS53179

Now for the best part - the giveaway!  One lucky person will win their own free copy of the My Memories Suite software.  I will draw a lucky winner on September 10th.  In order to be entered in the drawing please do one or more of the following:
1) Visit www.MyMemories.com and choose a favorite digital paper pack or layout, then come back here and leave a comment telling me which one you like best and why.
2) For an extra entry, you can follow the My Memories blog, Facebook page, or Twitter stream.  Just leave another comment letting me know if you've done this.
    Blog: http://blog.mymemories.com/
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mymemoriessuite
    Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/mymemoriessuite

That's all there is to it!  Entering is almost as easy as using this terrific software.  And here is my proof of how simple it is to make beautiful pages in minutes:

And it's not just for scrapbook pages, either - you can make calendars, greeting cards, videos, and more!  So why not take advantage of a great promotional price and jump right in and join the fun?  =)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Vintage School Memories

The Paper Traders blog challenge this time is "Vintage School Memories" and I think it's such a fun theme!  I made this canvas by starting with some pretty scrapbook paper, which I scratched and sanded before rubbing with Distress Inks.  Then I layered a transparency over a page from an actual student reader printed in the 1800's... and added a few school-themed elements to finish it off.

These blog challenges are a lot of fun and open to everyone.  So hop on over to the Paper Traders blog and show us your stuff!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Dog Days of Summer

I loved this quote and had to use if for the "Dog Days of Summer" theme for the latest installment of the Paper Traders blog challenge.  I made this pendant by sanding a white tile domino, adhering the photo and words, then applying a generous layer of Glossy Accents.  When everything was dry, I wrapped some ribbon around the outer edge and added a bow at the top.  I used a jewelry bail to the back so that it could be hung as a pendant.

Run on over to the Paper Traders blog and take the challenge for yourself.  It's lots of fun and we'd love to see you strut your stuff!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Decayed Paper Technique

We had an ATC background swap in our Paper Traders group and my background was made based on Jill Geraghty-Groves’ “Decaying Background” technique as described in the March/April 2011 issue of Somerset Studio magazine.

canvas or chipboard base
vintage text & images
sponge brushes
gel medium (I prefer matte)
baby wipes
sanding block
acrylic paint
crackle paint
alcohol inks
spray bottle filled with water

1) Use something sturdy such as canvas or chipboard for your base.  This is a very wet technique so regular paper or cardstock will not hold up to the process (I've done this with success on watercolor paper; this time I used a piece of tablet backing).  Prime with gesso.

2) Tear vintage text and images to desired shapes & sizes.  Apply with gel medium.

3) Once dry, I trim off the excess paper with scissors and then carefully smooth the edges with my sanding block.

4) Mix some gel medium with acrylic paint of your choice.  I usually use a neutral buff color.  You can use baby wipes to wipe the paint off of images that you want to show through.

5) Goop on crackle paint around the edges and let dry.  I used Ranger Distress Crackle Paint in “Picket Fence” and “Antique Linen”.  (Because I am using this piece to make into ATCs, I marked off the sizes for each card and put the crackle paint around those areas so that each ATC would have a crackled edge.)

6) Let your paint dry thoroughly.  It will crack as it dries.  The thicker the paint, the bigger the cracks.

7) After your paint has cracked, you can drip alcohol inks along the edge then spritz with water and it will run down the paper and into all the cracks.  I like to tip my background up on its edge with a paper towel underneath; then I run the bottle of ink along the top edge, spraying with lots of water, and tipping the piece to help the inks run and blend.  For this project, I used Adirondack’s “Eggplant” first, followed by “Latte”.  This step takes quite a bit of water and is very wet and messy.  Let your background dry thoroughly.

8) Now you can use your background as you want.