Friday, August 28, 2015

A little bit of this, and a little bit of that!


Happy Friday!

Occasionally, I like to share previously un-shared projects that have been accumulating in my 'un-shared' file.  Today is one of those days.  :)  

Not too much explanation is needed, just a lot of photo's and projects.  Enjoy!

(this mini was created during 'Art Is You' last October in Petaluma, CA.  It was an amazing week and this was a class taught by the wonderful Sharon Payne Bolton!

At another class, taught by Nellie Wortman, we created this whimsy, vintage inspired sewing piece.

Lastly, are two art journal pages that have been just 'sitting around' for over a year.  Thought I share them now.  :)

As always, thank you for stopping by!  Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Mini Leather Hand-bound Journal Book....


Happy Thursday and almost September!

In September, I am super excited to announce I will be guesting for VivaLasVegaStamps.  The excitment is so much, I just can't contain myself, so I am sharing one of my guest project today, and on the VivaLasVegaStamps blog

I LOVE VLVS stamps!  They are perfect for all types of projects and the selection is endless!  It literally takes hours to peruse the online store, creating a huge wishlist of stamps.

For my first project, I am sharing a Mini Leather, Hand-bound Journal book, using VLVS stamps to embellish my signature header pages.

To create my signature headers, I started with a blank piece of felt.  I added color to each section of felt with Distress Stains, allowing the colors to blend and mix.

Once the felt was dry, I heat embossed each signature header with the 'Writing Background' stamp. (there are 3 signature headers pages in total)

(be careful to move your heat around so the felt doesn't burn)

For each signature page, I stamped a different image on a square piece of silk, then dipped the silk into coffee, to stain the fabric.

 I then layered the stamped, silk fabric on top of other fabrics for texture and interest, using Matte Medium to adhere them together.

Once the matte medium was dry, I stitched over each stamped image, embellishing the image where I desired.

Stamp used: Design Crosses

Stamp used:  Whimsical Moon Face

Stamp Used: Owl in Vest

Once the stitching was done, I adhered each stamped embellishment to the cover of each signature page.

I added several additional blank journal pages to each signature and hand-bound the book together, using a pamphlet stitch.

I added a blanket stitch around the entire outside edge, and a metal embellishment for my cover.

I hope you enjoyed my mini leather journal book!  I really love how it turned out!  These would make the perfect little gift!  (hint-hint)

Be sure and stop back again in September for another Guest Designer project.  Thank you for stopping by!  Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

DIY Alphabet Flash Cards - Easy Peasy with Hazel & Ruby Stencil-Masks


Happy Wednesday!

Today, I am sharing a new Hazel & Ruby project, DIY Alphabet Flash Cards.  

My kids are grown and past the need for Flash cards, but I am always looking for ways to use Hazel & Ruby Stencil-Masks, and I thought it would be fun to create some DIY Alphabet Flash cards.  The stencil-masks are perfect for this project, and I finished the entire project in a couple of hours.

Step One:
Grab your favorite acrylic paint.  Paint 3 pages of heavy weight cardstock, randomly. Once dry, cut into 2 2/3" x 3" squares.

(you will need 1 larger square for the 'W'.)

Step Two:
Add 1 alpha stencil-masks to each square, adhering securely.

I used the Broadside Alpha Stencil-Masks for my project.

Step Three:
Using white spray paint, paint each square.  I love to use spray paint with my stencil-masks.  It creates a clear, crisp edge.

Step Four:
Once the paint is dry, remove the stencil-masks.  With spray paint, no need to remove the paint from the mask. Just remove it from your project and place back on your backing sheet.

Step Five:
For added durability, laminate each square.  I used my Xyron machine for easy lamination.

I wanted to create a cute storage container, so I created a handmade paper box, using 'Wrap It Up' Polka Dot Party paper. If you are interested on making your own box, YouTube has a ton of how-to's.  Just search on paper box.

Done!  I really love how easy and fun this project turned out!  

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a wonderful day!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Getting personal....reflection on life, love, and happiness


Happy Sunday!

I thought instead of my usual mixed media, art journal, or paper craft related post, I would share a bit about me, where I've been, where I am now, and where I want to go.  

I don't typically get super personal on my social media outlets. I leave them for sharing my latest creative adventure, travel photo, or silly blurb.  I like to keep things up-beat, light, and positive and I don't want to overly complicate an already complicated life. I believe that there is already too much grief, sorrow, and sadness, there is no need to add to it.  

My inner most personal thoughts and feelings are usually left for my closest friends. I am a very private person and often, they don't even know what I am going through, until it has reach a pinnacle. 

This post is the result of Facebook.  Yes, you read it right, Facebook.  I have a love/hate relationship with this social media outlet and have days where I want to delete my account.  The pettiness and drama that can be associated with Facebook can be overwhelming at times.  But then I have days (which usually outnumber the other) where I love Facebook and how it has allowed me to connect with others, both whom I've met personally and those I have not.  Friends I have from around the world, whom I cherish and adore.  The world is truly a magical place.

So why Facebook?

Well, it all started with the Facebook feature, 'you have memories of this day....'

One special memory, from August 13th, really put my head in a spin.  

A year ago, August 13th, 2014, my life changed course, drastically.  I have had my share of heart-ache, life changing events, but this one hit me harder than the rest.  I'm not really sure why, but it did.  

Before I start my story, let me give you some background about me:  

I got married (marriage ONE), when I was 23.  I had my first child when I was 26, and my second child when I was 28.  My first marriage ended when I was 34.  We finally divorced when I was 36 and in total, I was 'with' my first husband a total of 17 years.  This was a shocker and an eye opening experience.  I learned that life sucks and things don't always turn out the way you expect.

One chapter finished.  Next chapter begun.

When my marriage was over, I moved to Nebraska. No family, no friends, just me and my two young boys. This is where I met my second husband. 

I met him when I was 36 and we married when I was 36.  Yes, within 6 months, we were married.  We divorced when I was 45.  Another divorce, another heart-ache.  I was beginning to wonder if marriage just wasn't for me.  I look back at this marriage and wonder why it failed.  Did I rush this marriage?  Were we not compatible with each other?  I'm not sure.  

Another chapter finished.  Next chapter begun.

The year prior to the actual divorce, my mom passed away, and I was feeling really guilty at being so far away when my family needed me.  At this time, I was living in Pennsylvania, closer to 'home', but still so far away.  It was a sudden death and everyone was having a difficult time resolving the sadness and grief.  I left my job and moved back 'home' to Ohio to help my family.  I was lucky and blessed enough to still be working as a consultant for the company I left, but the year was 2009, which was in the middle of the recession.  Bad Times!

Eventually, my contract wasn't renewed, so I needed to look for a new job.  My field of expertise is very specialized, and most jobs are located on the coasts, so finding something near to home would prove to be difficult.  I started the search and found what I thought was the 'perfect' job, was located in Salt Lake City. 

Another chapter finished.  Next chapter begun.

I didn't really want to leave my family (again), but the realist in me knew I needed to make money to support my kids and my life. 

I was 45 and was hesitant to accept the position, but I needed income and way to support my life.  I was very excited and hopeful this may be the place for me.  

My soul is drawn to the west and the mountains.  When I lived in Nebraska, I would spend many weekends in Denver and Fort Collins, experiencing the mountains and fresh air.  The mountains calm my restless soul and I find peace when I among the blue sky, green fields, and high peaks. When I lived in Nebraska, one of my dear friends and I visited Yellowstone for a mini vacation. I immediately fell in love with the Tetons and I remember telling her that this is where I wanted to die.  So off to Salt Lake City I went.

I immediately fell in love with the grandeur of the Wasatch and Oquirrih Mountains.  Salt Lake City is in a valley, nestled between these two ranges, so it's like you can reach out from both sides and touch heaven.  I moved to Salt Lake in April, so snow was still at the higher elevations and I would stare and wonder at their beauty.

My initial reaction and thoughts about Salt Lake was one of friendliness, kindness, and raw beauty. The lifestyle out west is low-key, slow-paced, and laid back.  Perfect for what I wanted at this point in my life and career.  The salary was less than I was accustomed to, but I've learned in my short time on this earth, that money isn't everything.

Within a few months, I met a man who was unlike any I had ever met.  He was kind, funny, and drama free.  Was I ready for yet another relationship?  I wasn't sure, but I jumped in with both feet. 

As a side note, I don't do anything half-ass. I commit 100%.  If I deem something worth my time and energy, it (and they) get all of me.  No exceptions.

Neither of us were sure where we were headed, so we let things 'go where they would go' and enjoyed the ride.  I can honestly say that this relationship was more open and honest than anything I had experienced in my past.  I felt a strong connection with him, which was new to me, and it was a pleasant and welcomed surprise.  We moved in together and all was good!  I loved him.  I loved my personal life.  I felt at peace again.  In addition, I really enjoyed my job and I was happy that both areas of my life were heading in the right direction.

   Fast forward 5 years, now 50 years old.  

Without going into specific detail, I slowly realized that the company I was working for and the job I was doing, was limiting me and wasn't allowing me to grow professionally. I worked in a very controlling environment, and for those that know me well, this is something I really struggle with.  I am an Aquarian, so any restraint or control really activates the fighter in me.

  In addition, my relationship was headed in a similar direction.  Our relationship was hidden in plain sight and many of my 'friends' had no idea that I was in a relationship, let alone the turmoil I felt.  At first, keeping our relationship 'secret' was exciting and fun, but eventually, I cracked.  I couldn't do it anymore.  I couldn't keep up with the facade.  While I don't share much of my personal life on social media or with others, hiding my relationship was like hiding a piece of me that I so very much loved.  It was a part of my life that 'worked'.  I felt blessed to have this wonderful man in my life, yet I couldn't share it with anyone.  The caged animal in me began to fight to get out.

For the first time in my life, both areas of my life, personal and professional were crumbling. I've experienced heartache before, but to lose the man I loved and adored, and a job at the same time, was almost too much to bear.

Special Note:  During my time in Utah, It opened up a part of me that has allowed me to cope with the feelings I had.  I immersed myself into the creative arts and found refuge in getting lost in paint, ink, and paper.  It was one part of my life I could control and felt free.  I could express my joys, my sorrows, my hopes, and my fears.  All through creating.

I could be me.  No restrictions.  No hiding.  No lies. 

But this was certain - for the past several years I had been living in a cage.  I couldn't be who I wanted to be at my job.  I couldn't shout to the world about the man I loved.  I had to sit quietly in a cage.  

Beak tied.  Feathers clipped. 

Controlled.  Tied to a perch.  No allowed to fly free.

In comes Facebook memory.  When I saw my memory post from August 13, 2014, all of the feelings I felt a year ago, came rushing back.  I remember how I felt.  Lost.  Alone.  No plan in sight.

Date:  August 8th, 2014.

I quit my job.

Date:  August 12th, 2014.

I packed my belongings.

Date:  August 13th, 2014.

I moved.  I left the man I loved.  With every ounce of my soul.

I cried.

I dared not look in my rear view mirror as I drove away.

I sat in silence in a packed car as the mountains of the Salt Lake valley disappeared in the distance. 

I lost everything.  A job.  A man.  Love.  All.

I want to say a special thank you to my wonderful and dear friend Lisa!  She opened her home, her heart, and her welcoming arms.  I Love her so much!  I wouldn't have been able to get through those few months without her.

On to Wyoming.  

Another chapter finished.  Next one begun.

Where was I going?  What was I going to do?  How was I going to survive financially?  Did I want to create full-time?  Did I want to find another job in my career?  Would the sadness ever leave my heart?  I felt lost.  I felt alone.

So many questions, no answers.   

  Then reality set in.  Within a week, I started panicking about no job and no income.  I only had enough money to survive 5 months, so I had to find something quick.  I would do anything.  Office work, online work.  I contacted the local art studio in town and they offered me a job to teach some mixed media classes.  This was heaven!  But I couldn't survive on teaching classes here and there.  I looked, I searched, then...

I stumbled on my old job, in Pennsylvania.  Still open after 4 months.  I contacted my old boss.  One thing lead to another, and boom!  Got the job!  I remember flying to New York City for my interview, on September 11th of all days.  For the first time in a long time, I felt at peace.  It felt right.  It felt good.  It felt like home.  

An ironic tidbit about this. My original hire date (from my first employment with them) was September 11, 2000.  So 14 years later, I was back where I started.  Destiny.   

Where am I today?

I am happy.  I love my job.  I feel at home.  I love the people I work with and for.  I am still creating.  I am okay with being alone.  Alone does not mean lonely.  I feel free to fly. I feel free to be who I am.


But, I will admit to you.  There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of that man.  I wonder what he is doing and if he is happy.  I wonder if he ever thinks of me.  The five years I spent with him will be a part of me forever.  Unlike any others before.  There are days I want to hear his voice.  To hear his laugh.  To feel is touch.  But I know it will never be.  During the last several months in Utah, I experienced several spiritual events that I remember like yesterday.  I was visited by his ghostly brother. It frightened me, yet calmed me at the same time.
My hawk spirits visited me daily and sent me messages that this new chapter and journey were okay.  But I can't help to think what the purpose was.  Why?  I ask myself that frequently.

What's next?

I love my life right now.  I am free to be who I am, without judgement, secrecy, or control.  I have a terrific job and a boss who believes in me.  I want to continue being me.  Alone or not.  I think I need to be alone for awhile.  I need to reflect, search, and continue to discover life.  I want to continue creating.  It brings me joy and expressiveness.  Is love in the future for me?  Probably not, but truthfully, I am okay with that.  I'm not sure anyone can handle the real me.  I'm sensitive, spiritual (not in a religious way), intuitive, and brave.  I suppose I am also strong, but you can be surprised how strong you can be, when you need to be.  The below quote really sums up where I want to go.  My One Little Word for 2015 is Home, and this quote explain why.

Perhaps I'm looking for a place that doesn't exist.  But the journey that takes me there is my life.  I wouldn't trade it for anything. Perhaps I will end up back in the mountains again.  Perhaps not. But then again, perhaps I will.

I often think about the ending in one of my favorite movies, 'Legends of the Fall'.  The character that Brad Pitt plays, 'Tristan Ludlow' is a restless soul.  He is always searching for a place where he can find peace and calm.  He has moments in his life where it falls in place, but they are always followed by moments of upheaval and pain. This is my life. I'm at a place of calm right now. I will enjoy this chapter and see what my life has in store for me during this chapter and the next.

I'll leave you with one final thought.  I have always lived my life with No Regrets.  There have been people in my life I've taken the chance to tell them how I feel, regardless the outcome.  I do not want to live a life that I wonder, 'What If?'.  Life is too short.  Tell those you care about, how much they mean to you.  Say 'I Love You'.  Ask for a chance.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  But you won't ever wonder, What If?