Sunday, February 18, 2018

A New Adventure!

Well, I'm on to the newest adventure in this chapter of my life.  For those of you who are just beginning to follow me, I lost my husband to a very rare disease 14 months ago.  We were married 46 years at the time of Dan's death.  Needless to say, its been devastating - in fact, I don't know it there is a word in the English language that could properly describe how I feel about losing my soul-mate.   I promised Dan, that I would be okay.  I just had no idea how long that would take or what "okay" even looked like.  Now I know that there are days when I feel like I'm making progress, step by step.  The very next day, I could be hit with an unexpected wave of grief that makes me feel that I'm back at the beginning.  I have decided that being okay means making some positive steps to be okay.  I go a bereavement support group that has been invaluable.  I took a course of how to move on, where not only did I learn some really helpful ideas, but made a couple of great friends.  The most helpful thing though has been a Dahn Yoga studio I found.  I have fibromyalgia and knew that I couldn't do regular yoga, so I started looking for Tai Chi classes.  Dan had been encouraging me to do this for a long time and made sure I understood that he felt it would be important to help me heal and move on after he was gone.  He was a big exercise guy!  When I found this studio, I knew seconds after I walked in, that it was the place I needed to be and that some how Dan, had lead me to this place.   This yoga is based on a lot of Tai Chi forms and postures, so I felt like maybe my body wouldn't rebel quite as loudly.  What I found is a place of peace, calm, energy, acceptance and support.  Not only are the owners/instructors incredible, but it had drawn to it other incredible people.  I really thought I'd set my goal at going to these classes 2-3 times a week.  To my surprise I am going 6 days a week!  There are definitely things I can't do, but there's a lot I can.  The best unexpected perk, are the precious friends I have made.  The kind of friends that seem like we've been friends for decades.  They even made me realize an important fact.  Part of losing Dan is that I lost my identity too.  I have been a part of this incredible entity - Dan and Jan for almost 50 years.  I didn't know who "Jan" was.  I had never lived by myself, because we married young.  We had grown up together and had been blessed with an incredible life and even more incredible family.  We raised a son and daughter who are both married and have provided us with extensions of themselves with their wonderful spouses and amazing children (2 each).  What a legacy Dan left behind.  I don't know what I would do without my kids and grandkids.  What my new friends helped me realized - is that they didn't know Dan except my stories of him.  To them - I am "Jan"!  To the friends I've made in the bereavement group - I am "Jan".  I now realize this is how I start learning who I am.

Now, I on to this next new adventure.  Like I said, I had never lived on my own. I went from living with my parents to graduating high school to being married!    Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change anything in my life that I can think of except  still having Dan by my side.  I do have a suggestion, the same one I gave my daughter, Andi.  Don't get married right away - live life, learn about yourself, experience new people and places.  Andi did that!   Anyway, I've realized that I needed to move to a smaller place, a less expensive place.  When we got Dan's prognosis of a year or less, he wanted to move right then so he'd know I was settled in a new place that would be more affordable.  I wouldn't hear of it..  Moving is a huge deal and would have taken too much energy and taken my focus off Dan.  I told him I could do that later, but he was the only thing I could focus on.  It took the whole family to convince him that I'd be okay.  It was his biggest concern after he came  to grips with the reality of this horrible prognosis.  What could he do at that moment that would help me after he was gone?  Dan encouraged me to proceed with my greeting card business.  To sell my cards on Etsy and focus on creating a business that I loved and could occupy my time and mind - that was another big concern of his.  It didn't want me just focusing of my loss, but on something positive and creative.

For the last 6 months I have been very passive aggressively approaching a possible move.  Now financially - I should have done this long ago.  I have my disability income from my job as a Principal's Secretary at an Elementary School (loved that job) and half of what Dan was getting from social security.  Seems the only  thing that changed in my expenses was food!  So it turns out losing $800 a month makes a huge difference.    I was just having a hard time leaving the only  place that Dan and I lived since we moved to Oregon 3 years ago, plus the place where he passed away.  At the end, he asked to come home to pass instead of in the hospital.  I realize that he is in my heart and he will go with me wherever I go and that this move will make him happy!  I actually, (after about 3 months) actually made appointments to go look at some of these apartments in person, instead of just on my computer!   I got home from one of those appointments about a week ago to find a notice on my door that my rent would be increasing by upwards of $500!  I felt suddenly compelled - to get serious in my search!!   At least, from all the time I had spent looking on line, I had a pretty good idea of places that might work.  I got on the phone and called one more place to see if I could squeeze in a tour that day and  they told me if I could get there right away I could tour that day before the new renters moved in!  The apartment looked great and they explained they did have an apartment with the same floor plan that would be available to move into at the end of February!  It was being remodeled and wouldn't be ready till then.  That meant I would be the first tenant in this brand new apartment! Yesterday, they called and said the remodel was done if I wanted to look at it before I moved in.  OMG!  It has brand new appliances, washer/dryer, sinks, flooring, light fixtures, faucets carpet, cabinets, counter tops,  paint and window coverings!  I definitely feel like this was all meant to be - my very first place that will be just mine!  Suddenly, I am excited!  So I move in on March 3rd to this beautiful new space.  Now moving still isn't fun and I am having to downsize - which I had just done 3 years ago in a big way when we moved from our house in Colorado!  Obviously, I'm a crafter and I am positive that somewhere in the crafter's secret handbook, it says downsizing of crafts should only be done once every 20 years!!!  (hehe)  But, I'm doing it!  There have been moments of panic and moments of tears as I come across something of Dan's that I hadn't thought of lately - but, the packing is happening and the downsizing is as well!

So, this is my current adventure.  Which is why my new blog is looking a skimpy on posts!  Give me a little time to get moved and settled and I'll be back in full-force!  Thanks for taking the time to read this!  I appreciate you all so much!


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Cute Floral Card Set

I always love trying new techniques or designs.  I saw this idea on the wonderful Jennifer Maguire's YouTube channel and it caught my imagination!  Here's how I made my version!

I started this process by taking one of my circle dies and tracing a circle on two panels in pencil.  I then took some of my favorite flowers from different Catherine Pooler Designs stamp sets and stamped on this circle to make a colorful wreath.  I also used Catherine Pooler Designs inks!  These inks are incredible!  Rich and vibrant.  The formula of the ink is amazing and just a couple of taps on the foam pad and you get a solid beautiful color!  I erased the pencil mark and used my die to cut out the circle. Now I have two circles and and two frames!  I added sentiments to the circles and attached them to top folding white card bases.  I scattered a few fun sequins on the cards for a little sparkle and added a few of the flowers to the inside of the cards.

 Next, I took a white panel and marked the size of my circle using the frame.  That gave me an idea where to stamp my sentiment.  I cut the frame panel to  5 1/4 x 4.   I then erased the marks and glued the frame on top of this panel.  I then added the finished panel to a side folded black card base.  I of course added a few sequins, I've gotta have sparkle!  I added a white panel cut to 5 1/4 x 4 to the inside of the card, again adding a few of the same stamped flowers

The last frame I turned into a shaker card.  I always save the clear plastic that the stamps come in, as long as they aren't wrinkled.  I cut these to make my shaker windows.  I started using this kind of accidentally one day when I realized that I was out of the usual sheets I used to buy to make my shaker windows!  I was trying to finish up a card for a birthday party I was going to. I just started looking for what I had that I thought might work and had a new stamp set I hadn't opened yet!  I've also used the clear sleeves you use to add papers to a binder.  I used foam tape on the back of this panel, making sure that area around the circle is closed completely so the sequins and beads don't escape.  I also use a lot of tape to make sure the card stands up in the mail well.    I like to add a lot of sequins and some micro-beads to the window.  I used different colors to match the colors I had used for the flowers.  I covered my shaker with a piece of watercolor paper I had in my stash that I had used to play with Distress Inks, but I think it would be fine with just white card stock as well.  I then used Scor Tape to attach the entire panel to a white top folding card.  I used one of my favorite dies from Hero Arts to cut out a "happy" out of black card stock.  I embossed it by using Versamark ink and clear embossing powder by Wow.  I let it cool and embossed it again using Versamark and the powder.  I did this 4 times. It results in a beautiful, very smooth almost enamel look.  I attached it the shaker window using Ranger Multi Medium Matte.  This is a strong glue that assures that its there to stay, even through the mail.  I then took a strip of the black card stock and embossed "birthday" with white powder from Wow.  I attached this with a strip of foam tape.  Of course, I stamped a few of the flowers on the inside of the card.  I also stamped 4 envelopes with a scattering of the flowers so the entire set is complete and ready to use or to sell on my Etsy shop.

I now have a set of 4 matching of floral cards!  I thought this was such a cute idea as a gift!  I had a lot of fun making these and it really didn't take very long to finish all 4 cards.  I used #80 Solar White Neenah card stock for the stamping panels and #100 Solar White Neenah card stock for the white bases.  The black card base is from Stampin' Up black card stock.  I love the weight of their colored card stock and feel that its a great price.

Enjoy - and I hope you're smiling!


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Because - I love you!

Welcome to blog!  I'm both excited and nervous about starting my new blog!  So please forgive any glitches you might find, but also let me know so I can figure out how to correct them!    My Instagram friend, Ashlyn D'Aoust and I have challenged and encouraged to start blogs in this new year!  Be sure to check Ashlyn's site at Ashlyn's Artsy Side.

Today I thought I'd share this card that is perfect for upcoming Valentine's Day, but is also perfect for any time you'd like to let that special person just how much you care.

I started off with a piece of Canson watercolor paper.  I pretreated the paper with my antistatic pad that I've had forever.  I would recommend  that you always use this step when you plan on embossing.  It's good to prevent your embossing powder from being where you really don't want it!  I stamped this paper with the beautiful background Ornate stamp from Simon Says Stamp, using Versamark Ink.  I used my white embossing powder from Ranger, heating until  the entire image was melted.  After the image was cooled it was ready for color!  I chose Zig Clean Color Brush Markers for their bright, vibrant colors.  Following the design, i put my chosen color in each image with just a narrow line right against the embossing line then added water from my water brush.   The embossing acts as a little wall to keep the water and color where you want it.   The watercolor paper and water did the rest of the work!  It let the color bleed into the rest of each image.  It's best to focus on one image at a time, then move to one not directly next to that one.  That will allow the paper to absorb the water so the colors don't bleed into each other.  I had a blast with this and found it to be really relaxing.  I had several backgrounds embossed, then just set down and painted while i was watching TV.

I used the heart die from the Concord and 9th se,t You Make Me Smile, to cut out the heart.  I played around until I thought I had the cutest part of my background!    Then I used the because die from My Favorite Things set, Because You, to cut out my greeting from black card stock.  I inked up the die cut "because" with Versamark Ink and embossed it with clear embossing powder from Wow.  I embossed this 3 different times, letting it cool a few seconds between each inking.  This gave the greeting a slightly raised, very smooth and shiny finish.  It's beautiful!  I glued it to the heart using Ranger Multi Medium Matte.  This glue is strong and I use it to attach embellishments so they'll stand up to the mail.  I then attached the heart to my top folding card base.  I use Neenah #110 Solar White Card Stock.  I changed to this card stock for my bases last year and i feel it makes such a huge difference.  I used foam tape to give the heart some dimension to the card, then finished it off by stamping I love you from the same MFT set.

I like to do a couple of things before I consider this project totally done!  I always add a little touch of stamping on the inside of the card (especially if the inside doesn't have a sentiment).  Here I added just a little border from a set I've had a long time.  Then I decorated the envelope with the same border.  Then that card is done!  I put it in protective, clear envelope and add it to my stash!  It's ready to send to a friend or sell on my Etsy shop!

Thanks!   Be sure to comment and let me know how this post is!