The dividends of insomnia

Maybe I should just learn to love the nights when I can’t fall asleep.

Thank you, PIF, pay it forward, markers, coloring

If I can go into the craft room and turn out a few more pay-it-forward cards, while enjoying the peace and quiet of the wee hours, it’s not without its up side.

PIF, pay it forward, thank you, ribbon

No matter how much I enjoy being a “night person,” I’ve been told I should avoid it because it’ll isolate me from others who have to live their lives during the daylight hours.

PIF, pay it forward, doily, flowers

I don’t know whether to be grateful that I don’t have insomnia every night, or grateful that the insomnia can yield these results.

Which would you choose?

Simplify? Simplify!

Thanks to his employer, Jeff and I have visited Iron Springs Resort each year.

It’s just a few days at a cabin by the beach, a little retreat from the everyday list of “things I should be doing right now.”

For those few days our lives are simplified – the kitchen holds a limited (but quite adequate) assortment of equipment, the fridge holds a limited assortment of food items that we brought with us, our “clothes closet” consists of a couple of outfits, we bring a bare minimum of toiletries, and reside in a much smaller space than usual.

And every time, we wonder why we can’t live this simply at home.

I asked Jeff this year whether he thought the two of us (plus the six cats! lol) could live together in such a small place.  With the addition of a shed or shop where he could have his voiceover studio and I could have my craft room, he thought we could.

And when we got back, I wondered how we could create the simple, peaceful feeling of Iron Springs at home.

There are lots of things we could do to declutter our house; there are also lots of things that need to be done at home that we didn’t have to do at the cabin – like paying bills, doing laundry, and scooping litter boxes.  (Not to mention the biggie for Jeff: going to work!)

I suspect that getting our lives that simplified would require not only quite a bit of proactive effort, but also some cash expenditures (e.g., do we hire a gardener, or pave over our yard, or move somewhere without a lawn?).

But there’s nothing to stop us, and much to gain.  So stay tuned…

Cards, blogs, and everything

Pay it forward, thank you

I think about blogging way more than I actually blog.

Which some might say is a good thing.  lol

I know of/follow some successful (as in “making money” and “well known to papercrafters”) card makers who blog a new project every day, with instructions and supply lists.  As much as I love making cards, I’m never gonna be that kind of blogger.  Mainly because I like making cards way more than I like writing up detailed instructions about making cards!

But it’s also because, while I’m a card-maker, and love to share with other card-makers, and would be happy to sell cards and card-making supplies, life is so full of other important things. 🙂

Like health (physical and mental), peace and contentment, gratitude, love, living a simplified life, helping other people, and making a difference in the world.  All of which I (like most people) struggle with.

And one of the things blogs can do is show us that we’re not alone in our struggles.  Whether it’s by simply reading a blog post from someone who shares our particular problems (“I’m not the only one”) or by responding to such a blog post (“You’re not the only one”), blogging has helped everyday people to connect and share from the heart.

So I blog about all kinds of things.  Just like writing in a journal, it helps me to sort out my thoughts and feelings, but it also flows out into the Internet universe, where it has the potential to be of help or entertainment to people I don’t even know, people I’ll probably never meet.

And that’s all the reason I need to continue blogging.

I’m “Guilty” of Disability

For me, it was painful knowing I had to go to work and sit at my desk while my brain was foggy and I couldn’t actually get anything done (fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue). It upped my chronic depression to a whole new level because I constantly felt like I was cheating my employer (and my coworkers). It continually stressed me, wondering whether I was going to run out of sick leave or wind up not being able to hold a job at all.  I even got desperate enough to ask my doctor to test me for Alzheimer’s.

Worst of all, I knew that some people questioned whether I was really “sick” or if I just didn’t want to work.  (And I could understand that, because I’d sometimes had the same thought about others.)

My employer/supervisor was generous and accommodating, providing paid sick leave and health benefits and allowing me to work part-time and on a flexible schedule, but over time even that wasn’t enough to keep me going. I didn’t qualify for disability but felt like I was falling apart. I barely held on until I reached the minimum age to draw retirement benefits, which meant I wouldn’t draw full retirement pay.  I moved in with my boyfriend and let my house go into foreclosure. It was the only way I could “afford” to retire.

But I still have the ability to do something I love – making greeting cards – which uses more visual judgment and creativity than logic (at least when I’m the one doing it).  I’ve started a “teeny tiny business,” and I’m struggling with exactly what I want to do (creative/artistic/inspirational) and who my ideal customer is, but I can rest whenever I get tired and there are no timelines I can’t change.

It could never have happened without having financial support, because my physical problems definitely slow down my ability to learn things (like new technology) and to accomplish things (like getting business paperwork done). So my business will be built at my own (snail’s) pace because it doesn’t have to provide my sole income.

I’m so grateful to be in this space now, and that my retirement has relieved the horrible guilt and stress I felt while I was still working.  And even more grateful to my supervisor, who bore with me through the ordeal!

Pretty in pink ribbon

Thank you, pay it forward, card, greeting cards

I have a whole dresser drawer full of flowers and leaves – paper, silk, ribbon, plastic – that I rummage through when I want a floral accent on a card.  Many of these came from garage sales, thrift shops, dollar stores, and bargain bins, because you can never have too many to choose from, right?  (Say “yes.”  lol)

And then I find it difficult to use many of them because they’re 3-D and awkward to attach to a flat card surface.

Ribbon, rose, flower, pink

I love these little ribbon roses, but they come to sort of a point in back.  If I use my craft shears to lop off the point, they come apart.  Trying to glue one on a card would be like trying to glue a chocolate chip with the point facing down.  So I’ve just kept setting them aside and using other options.

Until this past week.  I was inspired by the many monochromatic cards I’ve seen online (most were “white Christmas”), so I wanted to try layering some pale pink card stock.  Pale pink almost begs for flowers, don’t you think?  And my little ribbon roses were just the right color to match.

Now, how to put them on the paper so they faced upward and didn’t just stick out awkwardly from the front of the card?  If I could make a dent in the paper, maybe I could nestle the flower into it?  Nope, these flowers were too “tall” for that – I’d end up with a hole if I pushed on the paper that hard.

Eureka!  A hole!  I punched a hole in a piece of the card stock and set the flower into it.  Still stuck up too far on top.  But I could “thicken” the paper by putting foam squares under it to lift it up off the surface of the card face.  Two layers of foam tape, and the hole still wasn’t deep enough.

By now I could almost taste victory!  Another layer of cardstock with a hole, then two more layers of foam tape under that.  Oops, my punched holes were too small to let the little rose nestle that far down.  Bigger holes, then, but make sure they’re not so big that the hole shows underneath the flower.

Punch, punched, hole, holes, card, greeting card, thank you, pay it forward

A little glue in the hole (a glue dot worked for me) and the flowers pressed down into it – voila!

Wouldn’t this be adorable for a baby shower?  I, of course, used it as one of my pay it forward thank you cards.  🙂

Thank you, pay it forward, card, greeting cards
This should work for all those little silk flowers on wire stems, too.  Yay!


You’re never too old…

Greeting cards, pay it forward, handmade, thank you card

…to try something new.

It can be hard to change your habits, particularly ones you’ve had for over 40 years.

I’ve always had a tendency to start things I didn’t finish, but as I got older I began thinking I might have undiagnosed ADD.  I’m easily distracted, and each new idea I come across leads away from completing the preceding idea.

In my craft room I can be distracted by every piece of paper, embellishment, ribbon, and die.  I generally have at least three cards in progress at any given time.  I’ll look for an embellishment for a card and spot something else while I look that I really want to use, although it won’t work on the current card.  So I start another card before I finish the first one.

I’m grateful to have such a wide variety of materials to work with, but it’s hard to keep your table organized and decluttered if you’ve got multiple projects going at the same time.  And you greatly increase your chances of messing up one card while trying to work on another one in the same space.  (Well, maybe you don’t, but sure do!)

So I decided a couple weeks ago to try something new:  I’d finish one card before starting work on another!  (Hope you weren’t expecting some earth-shattering revelation! lol)

I started with one of the cards I had in progress, and didn’t allow myself to deviate until I had it done.

It worked out well, so I finished the two others I had going.  At that point it seemed much easier to tidy up my work space before starting a new card.

Next it occurred to me that I had many pre-cut squares and rectangles of paper, but at the same time was going hunting through all my papers, always looking for “something different.”  Which meant pulling out various sheets of paper, holding them against each other, and then pulling out more when what I had wasn’t quite right.  And guess what?  I’d be too excited when I found the perfect paper(s) to stop and put the rest away again!

So I decided I was going to make cards using my previously cut papers instead of pulling out new ones.  I know that I can easily make cards that don’t look alike, even if they do happen to both use a piece of the same patterned paper (a 12×12 sheet leaves you with a lot of leftovers after making one card with it!).

At some point I might figure out a reasonable way to limit  my ribbon or embellishment choices, too, but for now I don’t want to go that far (no, must have many, many embellishments! lol).  And since my embellishments are mostly in drawers sorted by color, they’re pretty easy to put away.

It’s been heartening for me to discover that I actually can wait to start a new card until after I’ve finished the current one.  I wasn’t sure if I could make myself do it.

Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks! lol

I Love the Fall!

Gratitude, thank you, greeting cards, tree
Fall is my favorite season!  I love the cool air, the beautiful colors of the leaves on the trees, the rainstorms, the smoky smell of wood fires or burning leaves.

I’ve been to Hawaii, and it’s beautiful.  I sometimes fantasize about going to live on some small tropical island.  But the truth is, I’m grateful to be in a place that has seasons.

I’m also grateful that here in Washington state the seasons are mild.  I’m grateful that we don’t get measured-in-feet snowstorms or monsoon rains.  We don’t generally have to worry about water shortages or power brownouts in the summer.

While the passing of the seasons is a reminder of time flying by, it’s also a chance to celebrate all the variations of nature — sun and snow, blossoms and branches.

And a reminder that, even if you’re going through some bad weather, there’s a promise of light and color waiting to be revealed once you wait it out.

It’s just the nature of things.

Gotta love a bargain!

Dollar tree, greeting cards, stencil, pay it forward

I like shopping at Dollar Tree.  Whenever I’m in there, I go up and down all the aisles, looking for interesting things I can use for crafting.  And I always find them!

When I spotted this little notepad/journal thingie, I was, “Oh, that can’t really be cutouts – it must be black printing on the green cover!”  But when I picked it up, I found out I was wrong!  The cute plastic cover has a chevron pattern cut into it.  Score!  One stencil for me!  And it’s just the right size to cover the entire front of a card!

I was able to pry up the edge of the comb binding just enough to pull off the covers.  Luckily, the back cover is the same stiff plastic as the front.  I wonder if I might be able to cut another stencil out of that?  Yet another inspiration (aka project) to add to my never-ending list!

I’m so grateful that I have access to a Dollar Tree store!

What’s your go-to place for awesome craft finds?


Let it go! Let it go!

Rose, flower, card, greeting card, flower

Okay, I love that song from Frozen, but it’s sometimes tough to do.

i have a hard time using liquid adhesives.  Give me a tape runner, a glue stick, self-stick embellishments, foam tape and I’ll do fine.  But lately I’ve been trying to use more of the supplies I’ve collected over the years, and some of them call for (four-letter word here) GLUE!

I’ll pull bits and pieces off shelves and out of drawers, and mix and match to get a “design” I like.  And then, I have to GLUE something.

Now I have the vision of the end result in my head, but I have to stop working on it until the glue dries.  And that’s so hard for me that I generally need to leave the craft room entirely.  Because if I stay to work on something else, I’ll go back and check on the glue, which is never dry yet! lol  (I sometimes think glue simply won’t dry when I’m in the same room with it.)

Having experienced a number of glue-related mess-ups, I’ve retrained myself pretty well now.  I’ll squeeze out that dollop of glue, position my two pieces, peer down over them to check the placement, then actually pull my hands up and step back from the table, reminding myself to let it go instead of fiddling with it any further.

For me, I’d rather find myself wishing I got more done, than find myself swearing over a project I’ve just ruined because I couldn’t wait for the glue.  Just let it go!

Now, if I could just figure out how to do this with food!  lol

I’m grateful for people who do hard jobs

We had a big hornet’s nest on the side of the house, so I contacted Cascadia Venom Collection – they’ll remove the nest for free as long as you haven’t sprayed it.

I idly wondered at the time if there were any women who did this kind of work – well, the answer is “Yes!”  I talked to her about how she got into that line of work; she was happy to talk about it.  (She knew someone who worked for the company.)

A pleasant young woman doing what most of us would consider a very unpleasant job.

I’ve always been aware of the many types of work that I would hate to do (garbage collection is an easy example), and am grateful that there are people out there willing to do them.  There are so many fundamental occupations that are necessary to our health, safety, economy and/or comfort that people are filling all around us.

I’m so glad they are!

That’s one of the reasons I decided to make pay-it-forward thank you cards, to express my gratitude to the various people I run into during each day, who make my life a little better with each interaction.

I just wish I could make enough cards for them all…

That’s where you come in!  Who’s done something nice for you lately?  What’s an occupation that you think is under-appreciated in our society?  Thank somebody with a little card, or just a few kind words, and you can be one of those people that others appreciate, too!