Saturday, April 22, 2017

Happy Earth Day to You!

You know it doesn't make much sense
There ought to be a law against
Anyone who takes offense
At a day in your celebration
'Cause we all know in our minds
That there ought to be a time
That we can set aside
To show just how much we love you
And I'm sure you would agree
It couldn't fit more perfectly
Than to have a world party on the day we chose to sing in unity:

Happy Earth Day to you!
Happy Earth Day to you!
Happy Earth Day!
Happy Earth Day to you!
Happy Earth Day to you!
Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Once, Twice, Three Times a Bag Lady & Project Calm

I panicked when I thought all the circle bags were no more. The bagger pulled out crisp new plain old WFM bags and I gasped. The cashier asked if everything was okay so I smiled and nodded; JC paid for our purchases and we left. I looked at each register as we passed, and sadly, so sadly, there was nary a circle bag in sight. One exhale, two exhales, three. Everything was all right. I just had to ration the bags in my stash.

Then JC brought home this envelope. I just knew it had my heel lifts from Amazon were inside, until I realized the shape wasn't right. I turned it over. Jean! What could it be???

Three bags!!! Circle bags! Jean, Jean. Oh, Jean! You made my heart zing! Thank you. JC thanks you. Minuet would thank you if she could. JC emptied two of his personal bags and gave them to me. They were double bagged! You started something. *grin* Thank you so much. I have a slight addiction to these bags. I still have the blue bees from the previous bag campaign. Buzzz!  The fact that WFM employs graphic designers for their good paper paper bags makes my heart sing (off key but still). The company encourages customers to recycle their re-cycled bags, or as I like to think, to "tri-cycle 'em." They give you a head start for art, for mercy's sake! And who doesn't like a circle? Huh? Each bag holds its own next life; you just have to free it up. So, although I have watched the sun rise for four mornings in a row, I'm not stressing (not much), because instead of angst-ing over insomnia, I'm working through the symptoms. No Ambien to the rescue. The pharmacy doesn't have it, can't get it, and have no idea if they will again, so it's been a cold turkey sandwich kind of life here. And I don't eat turkey. I have a Jean though, and I am grateful for her, and for all my good pen friends. Thanks, y'all. In case you are tired of me and these bags . . . Well, just hold on.

Seven gypsies went up a hill . . .

Old goodies never lose their purpose. I bought these awhile ago for a sewing project. Hoarders hoard with purpose.

Materials used:  Gold metallic embroidery thread, three tassels, bits of felt for leaves, good old Lineco glue, an awl, one circle, and everything turns into flowers! Oh. And a tapestry needle.

Power words. A handmade flower stamp. Bag handles made great hinges.

Secrets belong in secret places. 

Viewing Instructions:
Remember this: Whatever falls off wasn't meant to be there, avoid pulling any leftover strings, carefully examine everything!

It all fit.

Project Calm: Mindfulness Through Making is another paper crafter magazine with surprises. 

This turns into . . .

. . . this . . .

. . . and this! Have you ever made one? Will you try if I make one and show you how? 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Sage Old Adage, Sequins, and Glue

"Cultivating Thought" is from an old Chipotle bag--their Authors series. I saved the brown ink quote from the side panel, " We all, at some point, grow old and acquire other qualities, and these can always be turned to good advantage."  -Paulo Coelho

The old adage, "Measure twice, cut once," is still sound advice, and that is why it is an adage and not a cliche. "Shoot twice, glue once," is just as sound, and it's another reason man invented the smart phone. LINECO adhesive and sequins are so compatible it's almost scary. Once they make contact though it's a fight to disconnect the two. So if you're gluing sequins, do a dry run first, take photographs, have a look-see from a different perspective. When you're sure--it's smooth sailing. In the end a mistake is a mistake only if you say it is.

So. I set out to tell a story about 7gypsies. What's a letter but parts of your story? Thinking I had it "in the bag," I set to work telling it for someone special. Have you ever set out to create one thing, only to have it morph into something totally different for someone else? Old bags have good qualities that can be turned to good advantage. Yes?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter

An Easter Link:  Naturally Dyed Eggs

It's never too late to try something new. While we did not boil or dye a single egg-heck, we didn't even eat one--I wish I'd done the dyeing this way when Erin still believed in the Easter Bunny. I don't think she ever believed. Because I'm late with the eggs and hot cross buns, I will dye eggs tomorrow as an act of atonement. Okay, I'll do it because I want to try these along with a special flower plant that stains fingers a lovely shade of beet. It's funny how some things happen out of the blue so to speak; I plucked a damaged leaf from a clay pot on the patio this afternoon, and it stained my fingertips. My immediate wonder was if it might make a lovely ink.  Tonight I see as egg shell dye. But, wouldn't it be lovely not to have to dye eggs at all? Wouldn't it be a wonder to own different breeds of chickens that  lay different colored eggs? 

I've never baked hot cross buns, but sure wish I had. With currants. Except they look like little bugs in the photos I just sneaked a peek at. No matter--I'd eat them with my eyes closed.

I missed having a slice of coconut cake for dessert this Easter. Coconut cake is a dyed in the wool Armstrong family tradition. Aunt Hazel always used fresh coconut, but grating enough for a two layer cake was a knuckle-scraping chore that required lots of muscle. Bakers Coconut works just as well these days, but back when I was a girl, simply opening a coconut was a big deal. It required a clean new nail, a hammer, an accurate aim, a drinking glass, and patience. 

The nail had to be hammered home in just the right place without cracking the shell. I was such a goose back then that watching the pale milk that slowly-slowly-oh-so-slowly dripped and dribbled into the clean glass never failed to trick me into believing it tasted as delicious as it smelled, no matter how many times I'd tried it before. No one drank it. No one liked it which is the only reason they let me have it. Being rewarded with a small piece of the nut meat made up for the disappointment. It took forever to chew it! Aunt Pauline said it made your teeth whiter. 

If memory still serves me well, the shredded coconut topped delicious boiled icing . . . Today's bakers use cream cheese frosting with too much powdered confectioner's sugar instead. Dinner was almost always poultry with cornbread dressing, potato salad, ham, at least two types of greens, cornbread gravy, . . . I'm forgetting something I'm sure. 

I read that certain religions cooked ham to stick it to none-pork eaters, while another group ate lamb because the lamb represents the lamb slain on the cross--thereby sticking it to the other group. All I knew was this:  Our family ate well with no disrespect to anyone. Spring always began with the first big dinner of the year. New Year's Day feasts paled in comparison. And then there was cake. Coconut cake! Light, fluffy, white layer cake topped with frosted peaks topped with spikes of fresh coconut! I tried to make my slice last longer than anyone else. It was my own little piece of heaven. Then came the day when eating lamb smacked of cannibalism. Eww! Oops! Eww? Listen to why your children make certain dietary choices and you'll understand them better. *grin*

Today's menu was herbed roast leg of lamb, asparagus, brown rice, gravy . . . tea, and no dessert. *sigh* Coconut cake, anyone? Someone? Who baked a cake? Red velvet? Callin' all Southerners!

Hope you had a lovely Easter, Arbor Day, Beltane, Chinese New Year, Green Week, Imbolc, Super-calia, May Day, Nowruz, Ostara, Pentacost, Setsubun, Sham el-Nessim, Spring Day, Whitsun . . .

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Another Saturday Evening Post

Woman's work is never done. 'Tis true. One of my favorite note cards. 

Seriously considering matting and framing this one. Thanks Jean. You always manage to outdo yourself. I especially like the stamp placement. That gray is so cool it makes me smile.

I love a tree. Never met one I didn't like. I hug ours as often as they allow it. Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets. Did you know she's as old as she is? Can anyone ever take her place? Do you have a favorite "modern" poet? It takes a special sort of person to make rhyme that stands the test of time. Thank you, Jen, for giving me two of my favorite things. Make that three! Watercolor counts.

Who doesn't know the first line of Trees by heart? I had to do some hard conjuring to get "upon whose bosom snow has lain." After all these years, you'd have thought I got it back in grade school. But poetry takes on new and  deeper meaning as I age. I memorized "Old Ironsides" for class at a tender young age, surprising even our teacher, but that poem made me weep then--blame teen hormones--and still stirs me now. I don't know why any more, but I will never forget "the harpies of the shore shall pluck the eagle of the sea!"


I think that I shall never see
a poem as lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
against the sweet Earth's flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
and lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
a nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
but only God can make a tree.

Joyce Kilmer

I dug out my little card catalog as you can clearly see here. 

Finally used up the lemonade stickers. About time!

Two pieces of mail went out today, meaning it didn't have to sit for a week or two before heading out.   Just a little "Hey, how ya' doin'?" kind of mail. Who doesn't like being reminded that someone's thinking of you? Showing beats telling every time.

I like stamping dates on these! I envied librarians when I was growing up. They got to live among books for a living. The person in possession of the date stamp had maximum lending authority! I've little cards for far too long now. I've been reluctant to use them; no one I've sent them to has ever said they arrived safely; they're rather small. 

There's just enough room on back for the necessities, which is more than enough.

I cannot imagine sending Plath, Sylvia. She might be too depressing.

A trip to Texas Art Supply the other day made me very happy. I have a new receipt for stationery! I see a bag in someone's future.  Oh, and I acquired much needed replacement Copics, Microns, another awl, a new orange Fabriano, and more of the best glue ever. TAS needs a new logo. They need to ditch the cheap plastic bags while they're at it.

Can you believe I actually bought a winter magazine? SMOH (shaking my own head). I barely glanced at it the first time I noticed it, since I am over and done with all these soothing, calming, let's color magazines that made winter bearable for a log of people. After all, it's Spring. But. And this is a big but . . . 

(back cover)

. . . it's what's inside that counts. Sorry for the sad photo. Something weird is going on with my phone since I did the update. But, is it too late to hygge? I'll explain the madness later. I forgot to make my Easter cards. (sad face) Time to rush!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Sacked and Sent

I finally made it to the post office. They were understaffed today because of the holiday, but the wait time was nominal with two clerks and the supervisor stepping up to the counter when the line snaked through the door. The lobby was busy as usual with a single line in front of the kiosk, and another in front of the blue door; both somehow blend to ebb and flow as slowly as molasses mixing with melting butter atop pancakes. People are so patient at the post office. 

True to form, the passport crowd didn't seem capable of managing bored youngsters in need of corralling; other customers always seem to do a better job of getting them to behave with a "careful now," averting near-miss collisions with experienced navigation tactics. Entire families blocked the main entrance and the passageway to post office boxes. Some things never change. 

I found the perfect finish for this "mail" bag. And I managed to leave out the stash of stuff I'd put together for fun, but no matter, there's always another day. Receipts from Oo Oh La La and Texas Art Supply make the best stationery since theirs are the largest. I managed to write a fairly decent "letter" on back. And . . . I stapled it to the bag! *grin* So, it's been sacked and sent. Ne-x-xt!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Bagger Ad(Vance)d

While I never watched the movie, the title is stuck in a special place in my mind. "Bagger Vance." The name conjures up a handful of interesting images with their own dimly lit little stories attached. I Googled the movie's title: 

"A disillusioned war veteran, Captain Rannulph Junah, reluctantly agrees to play a game of golf. He finds the game futile until his caddy, Bagger Vance, teaches him the secret of the authentic golf stroke which turns out also to be the secret to mastering any challenge and finding meaning in life.  Written by M. Fowler"

Okay, now I wish I'd watched it, "Bagger Vance." So I'm highjacking the title for yet another bag post. A smaller bag should make for a smaller post. Right? Here's trying:

The interior of a turned bag. It's a little like a turned spy. Shades of Home Land. So yes, you can totally turn a bag inside out without taking it apart at the seam. If you think it, you can.

Waste not, want not, and there comes a day when you'll discover unexpected ways to play with old stuff. Hopefully, some of you remember these. I am such a fan of Mother Goose and Grimm. Back when I subscribed to an actual newspaper, I made much ado of the Sunday Comics. Mother Goose and Crankshaft ran neck in nick, and Ruthie was always with me on the sidelines, laughing and clipping. The mail related clips are forever favorites so I shared. I always print leftovers which are perfect embellishments for a little bag humor. But first, here's this:

"In a comic strip published on January 2, 2009, one character wonders if the Colombian crime syndicate puts parts of the body of Juan Valdez in each can of coffee.[1][2]The comic strip refers to an advertising slogan of Colombian coffee that there's a little bit of Juan Valdez in every can of Colombian coffee.[2] In response to the comic strip, the Colombian Coffee-growers Federation made plans to sue artist Mike Peters for linking Colombian coffee to human rights abuse.[3] The Colombian Coffee-growers Federation announced it would seek at least $20,000,000 "for damage and harm, detriment to intellectual property and defamation" as well as a retraction from all newspapers that published the comic strip that day.[2] Federation President Gabriel Silva called the comic strip "a denigrating and disrespectful piece of black humor".[3] Peters responded saying that he loves Colombia, drinks Colombian coffee every day, and meant no offense or insult.[2] Peters said the comic strip is meant to be read along with the other comic strips that week, including one that refers to a can of Pringles potato chips containing the ashes of the inventor of Pringles.[2"

What would we do without wikipedia? How funny is this? I should sue the Federation for casting the color black in such a denigrating light. Black is beautiful. Night is black. Where would the moon and stars be without it? Black humor indeed. When we were kids and lived in Louisiana, we wanted morning coffee too. Adults always told us, "Coffee makes you black." Such a head scratcher it was. I looked at my parents, I looked at the waitress who held the coffee pot and repeated the same old same old; seemed like even strangers knew that warning, so it had to be true. Yet and wondered at the mystery. 

No way could all the people of color in my world drink that much coffee. My father was the color of a chinquapin while my mother looked like a cup of milk with dashes of coffee; both drank coffee. I 'd look at their arms and then my own. I didn't drink coffee, so why was I brown? My sister was a lighter shade of tan. What a senseless lie to tell a child. Daddy told me I could swim like a fish if I ate the raw fish roe I discovered the first time I watched Daddy clean fish. I grew to dislike milk unless it had Hershey's chocolate or that other brown syrup stirred in. Bosco? ?Yes, Bosco, and one other name I don't remember at the moment. It got to be so bad Mama had to order two quarts of chocolate milk from the milk man to supplement the cans of Hershey's. White milk with cereal was fine, but not for drinking. I eventually outgrew the fear but seem to have grown into being lactose intolerant. And, as it turned out, coffee gives me acid stomach so I drink tea instead. Take that, you Colombian Coffee-growers Federation!

Side one of a small WFM bag that's been turned inside-out.

A few normal rips and tears were tenderly mended. Silly Monkey didn't mind. The mail man wrote to Silly Monkey:

Dear Silly Monkey,

Stop calling! Write instead.


The Mail Man

Silly Monkey wrote back:

Dear Mail Man,

i'll stop calling if you stop answering.

Will you answer if i write?

Yours truly,
Silly Monkey

Side panels feel like extras points.

Flow makes the cutest little stamps. The dog with the balloon was a favorite. I like balloons too. And cats. You have to walk a dog. You have to change cat litter. Minuet does not flush. Apparently Flow people alike both cats and dogs, thank goodness. 

Bottom up.

Make your own stamps or . . .

. . . or go with Flow's. Canceled or  artists stamps make "more" merrier.

There's that address label again. I think I've figured out who this is for but things change. All that's left is the letter, a seal, and a trip to the post office. My stationery? Receipts! Lots of receipts. I'd staple them to the side but where's the sense in that? Aha! Never mind. I got it!

Sincerely sincere,

Writing on,